Salon humming along nicely
The restored colonial villa on Grafton Rd represents a vehicle for social change. Karina Abadia went to meet the group of community-minded people behind it.
People before profit is the philosophy behind the social enterprise Hum Salon, based in a formerly derelict villa in Grafton.
Rosy Armitage, one of the founders of Falling Apple Trust, says: ‘‘We are for community profit rather than for financial profit. Our priority is the stakeholder not the shareholder.’’
There’s a coffee shack on the front lawn and there are plans for a restaurant and bar inside.
While staff will be paid the profit will be fed back into the trust to sustain a myriad of arts, music and educational projects based in the villa.
Ms Armitage was looking for an older building with plenty of character and the heritage building at 123 Grafton Rd fit the bill perfectly.
Among its former occupants was Auckland City engineer WE Bush who supervised the building of Grafton Bridge in 1910. It has also been used by the Salvation Army as a halfway house for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
The group was able to strike a deal with the owner to renovate the villa rent-free and take a long-term lease until 2033 with first right to purchase.
The fact the villa had been derelict for eight years did not put them off because they had what others did not – people power.
The first phase of works was estimated to be worth around $500,000 but costs were kept low with help from more than 250 New Zealand and international volunteeers.
This approach fosters a sense of community, the Grey Lynn resident says.
‘‘People are so disconnected at the moment. The restoration of a building is the perfect way to bring the community together because they work alongside people who they wouldn’t usually meet.’’
On January 31 the construction wrapping came off and on February 2 the local community was invited to mark the end of the first year of renovations. People from all walks of life turned up, she says.
‘‘It’s about using old-school methods of getting people to congregate, celebrating the arts and having a good time. Our backyard party was exactly that.’’
For the next phase of works they need to fundraise at least $850,000.
This is to kit out the interior with a restaurant-cafe which will source local and seasonal produce and a bar selling non-branded alcohol.
A gallery space will display works by local artists.
With an amendment to the resource consent approved, there are plans to build decks and tiered gardens, extend the kitchen and improve mobility access by constructing a lift between the two storeys. They would also like to take the house off the electricity grid.
There will be an independent media centre upstairs where dinner discussions involving experts from different fields of thought will be held. A team of researchers and journalists will contribute to the website.
The aim is to bring people and ideas together but in a way that isn’t ‘‘preachy’’, she says.
It is a huge job but the 36-yearold, who has a background in marketing, event management and running restaurants, says the collective will make it all possible.
‘‘There’s still a lot of work to do but the number of people who believe in the project just keeps you going.’’
Community first: Rosy Armitage believes in supporting the local arts through a social profit rather than financial profit framework.
Go to aucklandcityharbour news.co.nz to watch a video of Ms Armitage giving a tour of the villa.