Work is about to begin on a soaring 178m, 57-level apartment tower that will "transform" Auckland's skyline, according to its Chinese developers.

A new image released exclusively to the Herald shows how the $300 million project, to be built on Commerce St near the waterfront, will dwarf other blocks such as Shortland St's Vero building and the Metropolis apartments.

The building, to be called The Pacifica, will have 295 apartment units and 35 hotel suites.
Hengyi Pacific said it would develop the block and was an affiliate of mainland Chinese company Shandong HYI. The Pacifica would be finished in three years, it predicted.

The Pacificia site in Auckland's CBD on Commerce St:

Liz Scott, Hengyi Pacific's New Zealand manager, said the building would have 57 storeys, including two levels of plant rooms at the top. Fifty-four levels would be apartments, she said. Building work would start soon, though no construction company had yet been contracted.

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"There's been demolition works on the site which is now currently clear," said Scott. "Construction works of the tower are not due to start till the last quarter of this year. But we're well advanced in terms of procurement of the building contract."

Apartments in five penthouse levels would cost $3 million-plus each, she said, "but there's flexibility with the floor configuration, depending on who the purchaser is."

Auckland's tallest apartment block was currently Metropolis, said Scott.

An artist's impression of the view and interior design from an upper level apartment in the planned The Pacifica in Auckland.
An artist's impression of the view and interior design from an upper level apartment in the planned The Pacifica in Auckland.

"We've bought a site which had resource consent associated with the purchase of the air rights above Achilles House, which gives us the ability to build higher," she said.

That meant no development could take place in Achilles House's air space, "so it protects the views from the [new] building."

Auckland Council issued consent in 2015 for a 178m, 48-level block but more floors were now being developed in the new plans, said Scott.

Demolition work was done last year at a formerly vacant commercial property at 10-12 Commerce St, between Customs Street East and Fort St, near the Britomart waterfront area and a block from the sea.

Hengyi plans to use a special reflecting facade, subject to Auckland Council's glare controls. "The unique design includes features such as a glass facade designed to reflect the surrounding city and harbour and the notable Maori Pikorua motif that lends itself to the twist pattern on the building's exterior."

Council documents for 8-12 Commerce St and 9a Gore St show resource consent was granted in June 2015 for "construction of a 48-level building with two ground floor retail units, 222 permanent accommodation units and 250 car parking spaces."

The applicants then were 12c Ltd and 47 Custom Street Ltd.

The heritage-listed Achilles House is at the corner of Customs St East and Commerce St. The consent said a conservation plan would assist with the long-term protection of that block. Scott said Hengyi did not own that building, just its air rights.

Variations to the original consent were granted this year, showing Hengyi as the new applicant and changing the architect from Paul Brown to Plus Architecture.

Hengyi said apartments from 60sq m would go on sale next month, at prices ranging from $640,000 to penthouses on a price-on-application basis.

The Pacifica's facade is to be a twisted-style design.
The Pacifica's facade is to be a twisted-style design.

A lap pool, sauna, steam room, spa, gym, yoga studio, media room, residents' lounge, library and barbecue terrace are planned, as is a 35-suite hotel.

Scott said the building would be worth more than $300 million once it was completed.

Last year, plans were announced for a taller apartment tower - 192m - that would be nearby. That building would be 50 levels and be called Customs Residential on Customs Street East, the Herald reported.

* A display suite for The Pacifica, on level 9 of 152 Quay St, is scheduled to open on April 27.