Renovations on a building the Sisters of Compassion have bought in downtown Wellington are due to start next April.
The Sisters bought the Lukes Lane building to accommodate such community groups as the Wellington Peoples’ Centre, the Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society, and new tenant, Downtown Community Ministry.
It will probably be named ‘Compassion House’.
One of the country’s leading women architects, Gina Jones of Accent Architects, has designed the refurbishment and all tenants have been consulted during the process.
Sr Margaret Anne Mills says the Sisters see it as another way of investing. ‘We could see it as a win-win situation. It meant we were able to support the groups in our network.
The Sisters were also keen to follow a policy of socially responsible investing which the trust board had initiated some three years ago. This fund had since closed and the Sisters were keen to maintain a socially responsible investment in the wider community.
‘We certainly can’t do it by ourselves because we’re small in number.’ And it’s compatible with what Suzanne Aubert was on about.’ Suzanne Aubert, who founded the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, New Zealand’s only home-grown religious order, worked with a large network of people to get what she needed for her work with those in need.
The DOLC’s mission values include divine providence, simplicity, action with the poor, justice and partnership and, in this case, to provide secure tenancy with affordable rents to community groups.
The Wellington Peoples’ Centre will be relocated on the ground and first floors of the building – medical and dental services plus associated support functions on the ground floor, with all other services, including advocacy, counselling, massage etc located on the first floor. A new and separate entrance will be created to the ground floor and a lift is being installed to enable disabled people access to the first floor.
Parents Help are retaining their existing suite on the first floor. Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Service are relocating elsewhere on the first floor and a new meeting room will be created in their existing space.
Downtown Community Ministry will occupy the front half of the ground floor and will have a new and separate entrance off Lukes Lane at the front of the building.
The architects are working closely with Wellington City Council to ensure that the Council’s proposals to ‘brighten-up’ the Lukes Lane precinct are realised.
A building consent application is expected to be lodged with the city council in February, with demolition of the building’s interior to start in April. Construction is expected to take about four months.