Property editor of the NZ Herald

Developer plans to fast-track waterfront apartment block project

New Zealand's biggest new apartment project could be finished in about six years.

Mark McGuinness, the managing director of Willis Bond, which won the right to build up to 600 apartments in Auckland's Wynyard Quarter, said in a Herald video interview that his business had eight to 10 years to complete the vast scheme.

But he wants it done faster.

"We want to do it in six. We've got the accelerator down," McGuinness said.

Apartments are now at the pre-sale phase, but work on the first block - the 113-unit Wynyard Central between Daldy St and Madden St - is planned to begin this year.

"Wynyard Central is a collaboration between Willis Bond & Co and two of New Zealand's leading architectural practices - Architectus and Studio Pacific Architecture," Willis Bond says of that first block.

McGuinness said the first residents would be able to shift into Wynyard Central in 2017.

Willis Bond will then build the 49-unit 132 Halsey overlooking the Viaduct Basin and work on the two blocks is planned to be simultaneous.

When it is completed, the Wynyard Quarter apartment precinct will have 17 blocks and more than 1000 residents but McGuinness said the huge amount of building work planned there was no threat to the existing gardens, parks and playgrounds.

The apartments will rise on public land, owned by Auckland Council's Waterfront Auckland, between the waterfront and Fanshawe St.

Units will start from about $550,000 but McGuinness expects a big penthouse overlooking the water at the luxurious upmarket 132 Halsey could fetch up to $5 million.

"The limited number of luxury apartments are generously sized and carefully proportioned, generally offering dual aspects and views overlooking the Viaduct Harbour.

"Residents' amenities include a concierge, residents' gym, business centre and theatrette," Willis Bond says of 132 Halsey.

Units will range from about 60sq m to more than 300sq m.

A $1 million display suite opened last month.

About 800 carparks will be built and many of those will be in the lower levels of the big new blocks being planned.

However, not everyone is delighted with the scheme.

Phil Twyford, Labour's housing spokesman, raised concerns about wider plans for the quarter.

"The regret I have is they seem to have decided there's no place for affordable housing there," Twyford said.

"Even in the most desirable and exciting parts of the city like this, we should be building mixed communities ... and catering to mixed incomes ... We shouldn't be building ghettos for the rich.

"I wish they'd rethink that and put affordable housing into the mix."

Wynyard apartment scheme

• 500-600 new apartments planned.
• Wynyard Central first, then 132 Halsey.
• To rise on Waterfront Auckland land.
• Builders to start this year.
• More than 1000 people to live in area.

- NZ Herald

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