Big apartment project distresses residents

By Anne Gibson

A controversial $150 million intensive apartment and shopping project on the corner of Broadway and Remuera Rd has upset locals, who say it should not be allowed.

Hundreds of units about to rise have been labelled "rabbit hutches" and the more urban design-focused Auckland City Council is being called on to "reach for the calicivirus" to exterminate it.

But developers L&Y Holdings of Singapore and Brunei gained resource consent last year and will begin building the first of two highly contentious tower blocks before Christmas. They say the units will enhance the landscape.

"It looks modern," said L&Y's general sales and leasing manager Raymond Ma.

"Big cities everywhere have high-rise buildings but if we stick to low-rise housing and the population increases, then people just move further and further away from the city."

Local retailers support the new blocks because they will bring more shoppers to the area, he said.

But rising construction costs have forced him to seek $15,000 to $19,000 extra from about 200 apartment buyers who paid deposits three years ago.

Project costs were up 40 per cent to 50 per cent, he said, because of delays in getting plans approved and new Building Act compliance issues.

A local business organisation is rallying opposition, criticising the 37sq m units for being too small and claiming the buildings will lower the tone of Newmarket.

Newmarket Business Association general manager Cameron Brewer said feelings were running strong against the proposed blocks.

"The people of Newmarket are genuinely worried that the hundreds of apartments about to go up on this prime site could be nothing more than rabbit hutches," he said.

"We want Auckland City Council to come out and either publicly support or reject this project. If it turns out they are less than happy, they should reach for the calicivirus as they promised us they would," he said.

Auckland's regional growth strategy, being implemented by Auckland City, has earmarked Newmarket for more intensification because of its proximity to key transport infrastructure.

Large railway corridor sites are seen as crucial to resolving rising demand for city living and easing traffic congestion. 


The scheme

* An extra 481 units on former railway land.
* 1000 carparks.
* 40 shops.
* Proposing Queen's Lodge, a 361-unit, eight-level block on the former Wilsons carparking site between Broadway and railway station, work about to start.
* Proposing King's Square, a 120-unit block to rise next year around the railway line.

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