Buyers fuming over lost time after pin pulled

By Jimmy Ellingham

Agent says development’s stalling a shock to all.
An artist’s impression of the Mt Richmond Mews project, which was to have been built in Otahuhu.
An artist’s impression of the Mt Richmond Mews project, which was to have been built in Otahuhu.

It promised to be an affordable and modern entry into the Auckland property market but a developer has pulled the pin on a town-house project, leaving buyers ruing lost time as prices in the city climb higher.

Construction of 34 townhouses at the proposed Mt Richmond Mews in Atkinson Ave, Otahuhu, was about to start when, last month, the company behind the development pulled out, as it was contractually allowed. The two-, three- and four-storey houses sold for between $549,000 and $685,000. Buyers put down 10 per cent deposits, which they've got back.

Some had put through initial moneys early last year, but it wasn't until March this year when they learned they wouldn't be getting their houses.

"[The developer] has reluctantly advised that due to the time and other complexities required to finalise all construction documentation and consents the development will not proceed," said an update to buyers. An update in February had said everything seemed to be on track.

A company called Mt Richmond Mews, formerly Salvin Properties, was behind the construction. It is directed and 100 per cent owned by Adrian Green, who could not be reached for comment at his Remuera home this week. But it is understood his company has been in talks about the site's future.

Buyer Glen Dunlop is now wondering how he can get a foothold on the Auckland property ladder. He laid down a 10 per cent deposit on a $559,000 two-storey unit. He got the money back, with interest he negotiated from the trust account, but it's the lost time that's hurting.

"I thought the development was a good opportunity to get in at a reasonable price, otherwise I couldn't afford it."

Mr Dunlop is not sure what he'll do now, especially as work is sporadic for him. An Aucklander, he moved to Hawkes Bay to be with his partner, but after she died, he thought he'd come home and buy a house.

"I've got to start again. I've got to re-visit everything."

And as prices climb Mr Dunlop continues to rent.

The property was marketed by Charta Real Estate. Agent Howard Sidnam said he was also surprised and disappointed at the developer pulling the pin on the "98 per cent" subscribed mews and had heard nothing since he was told the project was stalled.

Mr Sidnam estimated that if the same development was marketed today, townhouse prices would be about 15 per cent more expensive.

"We really felt for the purchasers because a lot of time was spent liaising with them. We did all the agreements. We had a lot of communication between ourselves and them and we know them pretty well."

Last year, another development at Spring Park was also pulled and that firm went into receivership.

Auckland Council granted resource consents for the mews in 2014. Such consents last for five years and the council says there's been no new applications for the site.

Marketing for the mews promised a "professorially landscaped ... gated secure community" with no body corporate.

- NZ Herald

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