Sections going like hotcakes

By James Fuller

Developers in the Bay's two largest residential subdivisions are reporting strong sales figures with one saying he is struggling to keep pace with demand.

The Lakes, at Pyes Pa, has topped 100 section sales since April and is selling an average of six lots a week.

Meanwhile, the principal developer at Wairakei (Papamoa East) said he received title consent for another 26 sections last week and had already sold 24.

The news comes as the Lakes developer, Carrus Corporation, announced the release of its latest stage in the 2081-section, 254-hectare development.

"The sales rate is really good and we're very happy with it," said Scott Adams, Carrus general manager.

"We're now standing at 112 sold, with half-a-dozen lots selling per week.

"We've just released stage 2k, The Pinnacle, which is 57 lots and title will be available there by next May. The next stages to be released are 2i and 2m."

The Lakes development, which started in 2005, was just one-third complete when original developer Grasshopper Farms went into receivership, owing Bank of Scotland International $95 million in February last year.

Carrus took control from the receivers in April and, by July, had reported sales of its first 50 sections.

Sections prices ranged from $145,000 to $250,000.

A resource consent application to develop the balance of The Lakes has also just been lodged.

"That's Stage 3 and there are 860 lots in Stage 3," said Mr Adams. "The application is for 12.5 lots per hectare, which gives you an average section size of 600sq m."

The longer-term development of The Lakes would see work continuing for another 12 years.

"We're budgeting to build 90 lots per year so with 1000 lots to build we still have 11 or 12 years to go."

Plans for The Lakes commercial centre were also revealed.

"The masterplan for the shopping centre will be tabled with council early next year," said Mr Adams. "The gross floor area of the centre will be 7000sq m.

"It will be a neighbourhood commercial shopping centre like Cherrywood (shopping centre in Otumoetai). There will be around 20 commercial operations including a superette, cafe, bars, restaurants, fast food establishments, a swim school, child centre, and possibly a garden centre.

"We've had interest from around half-a-dozen child centres and we have an Intention to Lease agreed with a leading local swim school."

Having been approved for commercial zoning, plans for the commercial centre will not have to go out for public consultation.

Mr Adams said the project's timescale varied.

"We will have something starting with the swim school next year. The balance is still probably 18 months to two years away."

The owner of the swim school was not prepared to go public at this stage. However, he confirmed "talks were well under way and a relationship established". He added that, once due process had been followed, they were "excited at the prospect of being involved with the new commercial development at The Lakes".

About 3500 homes are planned for the Wairakei residential community in Papamoa East. It is predicted to become home to 8500 people. Bluehaven Management is one of Wairakei's lead developers. Chief executive Bill Miller said demand for sites continued to build.

"It takes me more time to get the paperwork done than it takes me to construct the sites," he said. "We went through five or six years to get planning for the Wairakei subdivision. Once we did that, the builders were very keen, at the right price of course. What we're doing is meeting the market where it is.

"We've got our first stages under way and the demand is very good. People are already buying into my next stage while it's under construction. I'm trying to move as quick as I can to keep the supply in front of everybody. There's a momentum going and we have to keep in front of it.

"Our first two stages are virtually sold out before title. There's between 30 and 40 sections gone on the new stage, which is what we call Golden Sands. We've got a second stage going through, which we already have some pre-sales on, as well as our third stage.

"The majority are home-and-land packages with builders, but there are also people coming and buying their own sites."

Sites are between 420sq m and 650sq m and prices start from $153,000.

Mr Miller said Papamoa had a lot to offer, including its new high school.

"There's the high school, the primary school, the highway. There's about $600 million-$700 million being spent by the Government on infrastructure out here. And there's the fantastic beach of course, which a lot of people think is one of New Zealand's best."

David Mansel of Generation Homes, a firm which is building in Papamoa, said a predicted lift in the market had come through.

"We generally get a seasonal lift in spring but we're hoping to maintain it through Christmas and beyond."

Generation Homes current developments included Milford Estate, Papamoa, Fairview Park, Katikati and Omokoroa Views, Omokoroa.

Mr Mansel said Auckland and Christchurch housing shortages should continue to fuel local demand. "We predict that will push through the rest of the country. What we've found in the past is when there has been housing pressure in Auckland that has fed out to places like Tauranga."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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