Property Report: Room to grow and play

By Graham Hepburn

Westmere has become increasingly desirable in the past couple of decades. Photo / Ted Baghurst
Westmere has become increasingly desirable in the past couple of decades. Photo / Ted Baghurst

Originally a working class area with simple and solid homes, Westmere has become increasingly desirable in the past couple of decades.

This is down to a combination of factors: the homes -- typically bungalows -- are easy to renovate and/or extend and sit on generally larger sites than nearby Ponsonby and Grey Lynn.

Keith Dowdle, of Custom Residential, says those larger sites along with generally wider streets mean the suburb has a more open feel that is accentuated by large parks such as Meola Reef and Coxs Bay Reserve, that open out to the waterfront.

Proximity to the city is also a factor. And, as with a lot of Auckland suburbs that are highly favoured, schooling is a big drawcard.

Dowdle says: "Westmere School is a destination education facility with many of the buildings recently either rebuilt or new."

The school is decile 10 and celebrated its 100th jubilee in 2014.

While the suburb doesn't have the buzz of the Ponsonby hospitality scene, it does have a grouping of decent cafes around the Garnet Rd corner.

Westmere is bounded by Coxs Bay to the east and has a green belt to the west and south that flows through from Meola Reef to Motat, the Auckland Zoo and Western Springs.

Its housing stock is based on a mix of Californian-style bungalows and state houses although many of those homes have since been extensively redeveloped or replaced.

Stuart Robertson, of Bayleys, says: "It is a tightly held suburb and currently sales are few and far between. It is a reflection of how stable and highly desirable this suburb is. Many families that move into Westmere elect to remodel their homes to suit the changing needs of their family rather than sell and move on.

"The suburb comprises approximately 1700 homes and is a compact neighbourhood with Coxs Bay Reserve a hub for recreational activity.

"The mixture of housing includes everything from modest weatherboard homes through to high-end waterfront properties.

"With recent zone changes under the Auckland Unitary Plan, there may be some consideration given by owners to selling as development potential is realised."

Westmere's colonial settlement origins date back to 1841 when Maori gifted land, which now makes up most of central Auckland, to the Crown. The Westmere parcel was auctioned off a few years later.

In 1859 a district called Richmond was created between Edgars and Coxs creeks with street names that are still around today: Regina, Kingsley, Livingstone, Webber and Edgars. Through the 19th century there was little residential development with most of the land given over to farming.

Residential activity began in earnest in the 1920s with the Westmere Estate Company, with mostly bungalows built alongside some state housing. About this time, the causeway was built to connect Westmere to Herne Bay and the city.

World War II put the brakes on development but building started again in the 1950s. Along with other central Auckland suburbs, such as Ponsonby and Grey Lynn, Westmere was a popular destination for Pacific Islanders arriving in the 1970s.

One of the suburb's great assets is Coxs Bay Reserve, which joins with Bayfield Park and Hukanui Reserve to form a green belt stretching back into Grey Lynn. The reserve has sports fields, a cricket pitch and children's playgrounds as well as sculptures and a boardwalk through the mangroves. Dogs have specified off-leash exercise areas, although a lot of dog owners prefer canine-friendly Meola Reef.

More than 80 years old, West End Lawn Tennis Club continues to be popular with the local community and has a thriving membership.

Across from the tennis club and perched over the water (when the tide is in), the Hawke Sea Scouts hall -- or "The Ship" -- is a landmark in the suburb, and can be rented out for private functions.

Recent Sales

$1.65 million: 4 Larchwood Ave

House at 4 Larchwood Ave, Westmere, sold for $1.65 million
House at 4 Larchwood Ave, Westmere, sold for $1.65 million

John Wills and Nic Blackie, of Custom Residential, sold 4 Larchwood Ave, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with open plan living/kitchen opening to a level, private back deck and lawn for $1.65m.

$2.15 million: 47 Warwick Ave

House at 47 Warwick Ave, Westmere sold for $2.15 million
House at 47 Warwick Ave, Westmere sold for $2.15 million

A sale price of $2.15m was achieved by Keith and Sandy Dowdle, of Custom Residential, for 47 Warwick Ave, a four-bedroom, two-bathroom fully renovated bungalow with a new addition to the rear comprising living/kitchen opening to a covered patio and spa.

$2.8 million: 38 Webber St

House at 38 Webber St, Westmere, sold for $2.8 million
House at 38 Webber St, Westmere, sold for $2.8 million

A renovated four-bedroom, two-bathroom villa with double garaging at 38 Webber St was sold by Barfoot and Thompson Ponsonby for $2.8m. The home opens on to Cox's Bay Reserve, has north-facing decking and a flat, private garden.

PROPERTY PRICES

Entry level to this suburb would be a three-bedroom home on a cross-lease or small site that could sell for between $850,000 and $1.5m.

A three- or four-bedroom home on 400sq m to 500sq m of land would change hands for $1.5m to $2m. Homes with at least four bedrooms on sites greater than 500sq m sell for $2m-plus. Stuart Robertson, of Bayleys, says: "There are some exceptional waterfront properties, with CVs upwards of $5 and $6m so they would sit well outside the norm."

SCHOOLS

Westmere School, Pasadena Intermediate, Western Springs College.

RENTS

For many years rentals have been hard to find in Westmere - exacerbated by the fact that many homeowners have been rebuilding or replacing homes so need a rental during the construction process. A two-bedroom home would normally cost $500 to $600 a week, while three-bedroom homes would typically rent for $700 to $800 a week.

BEST STREETS

Rawene Ave (waterfront), Sunnybrae Crescent (great views), Fife St (park side) Kotare Ave, Garnet Rd (the harbour end), Winsomere Cres.

LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

Coxs Bay Reserve

With its north-facing aspect, harbour views, playgrounds and sports fields, this park is an oasis for locals. A creek meanders through the park, which has a network of paths. West End Lawn Tennis Club sits to the west of the park.

Garnet Rd Shops

Locals have a good collection of eateries and a wine shop at their disposal grouped around the Garnet Rd corner. Westmere Butchery is also a firm favourite with those seeking quality meat cuts.

- NZ Herald

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