Pavilions Blackburn Lake, a luxury retirement village developed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Victoria, Australia, has recently been acknowledged nationally.
The new development has received two significant awards — Best Retirement Village Development and Best Luxury Retirement Village Development for 2023 — from the Property Council of Australia at the annual gala event on June 22.
“Pavilions is the result of an approach that challenged the typical mindset of downsizing equalling downgrading. We wanted to make downsizing an upgrade,” Galen Gan, the project lead for Pavilions and the VIC infrastructure committee coordinator, said. This commitment to quality saw the team engage award-winning consultants and designers, such as VIA Architects and Hecker Guthrie, along with development and project managers Sinclair Brook — which delivered Australia 108 and Eureka Tower, the first and second tallest towers in Australia, respectively.
A focus on people, rather than just building form, is what Gan believes sets Pavilions apart from other senior living facilities. He explained their goal was to make this the very best retirement living experience for the residents.
The journey to make Pavilions a reality started in the late 1990s when the campground in Nunawading could no longer host camp meetings due to the rise of public liability risks. Thinking of ways to best use this land, church leaders initially tried selling it as part of a housing development. The attempt was unsuccessful due to market conditions and local objections. After giving it more thought, in 2009, it was decided to build an eco-friendly retirement village on the site. This marked the very beginning of the Pavilions project.
When completed, Pavilions will comprise 126 apartments spread over seven residential buildings expected to accommodate more than 200 residents. Construction began in July 2018, with Stage 1 completed in December 2020. Stage 2 is due for completion in October 2023, while Stage 3 is set to begin in November 2023 and complete in the first quarter of 2025.
The road to success has not been without challenges. Gan notes, “The enemy did not want this project to happen — why would he? He threw everything at us to knock this project off course and deprive the church of the mission potential that this project would bring.”
Winning these two prestigious awards is a significant accomplishment for the Adventist Church and the team behind the Pavilions project. “It is a surreal, humbling experience and a worthy recognition of all the many people who have worked so tirelessly for 15 years to make Pavilions the success that it is,” Gan said.
As for the future, Gan sees quality, lifestyle-focused senior living facilities like Pavilions playing a crucial role. “With the social isolation experienced during the past COVID-19-affected years, we need facilities that have the ability to adapt to the changing care needs of the elderly,” he noted.
According to Gan, feedback from residents and the wider community has been overwhelmingly positive. “The greatest validation is when I bump into one of our residents, and they tell me that moving to Pavilions was the best decision that they ever made.” The local community, which was initially apprehensive, has warmed up to Pavilions, with locals frequently visiting the on-site Miss Lucy Café.