St Heliers dress circle unravels

By Anne Gibson

Last year, it was to be a development so huge that it was nicknamed Neverland. Now, it looks more like "Never-happening".

An entire neighbourhood of houses worth more than $20 million is being sold in one of the country's most unusual real estate deals.

Eight houses in the St Heliers dress circle have hit the market and more on a street behind are expected to be listed soon in what could be New Zealand's biggest mortgagee sale.

All up, the BBG Trust Ltd owns 18 houses on Glover Rd and Waimarie St.

But some of the once-exclusive houses have been empty for years and other properties are vacant sites after a developer's enterprising plans came unstuck.

Financiers called a halt to funding on the huge land bank spanning a ridge near exclusive Riddell Rd where New Zealand's richest man, Graeme Hart, lives in a $20 million mansion.

QV listed the BBG Trust Ltd as owning houses in the two streets where some of Auckland's prime real estate sits on a ridge with extensive city and harbourfront views.

Greg Olliver, the reclusive and controversial Auckland developer, amassed the two-street landbank in the seaside suburb where he planned a new mini-suburb, dubbed by some as Neverland because of its scale and expense.

The first stage of the area's largest real estate project was to be 20 luxury apartments for $5 million each, stepped down a slope in five-tier blocks, with 70 carparks.

Mr Olliver was also planning his own mansion, Waimarie House, sitting atop the whole empire, so tall that it breached height limits.

QV lists him as owning one of the most expensive properties in Waimarie St with partner Sarah Sparks but it is not known if they are selling that house.

"He just went around those two streets and offered people crazy prices," said one local of the methodical acquisition a few years ago.

Mr Olliver's big plans were floated when property was hot and his fortune was pegged around $250 million.

Since then, tougher times have seen him take an entirely new direction.

In July, Todd Capital, which half-owned his Landco Land Developments, bought the rest of the company, raising questions about his plans for Long Bay and Ngunguru Sandspit.

But a Landco spokeswoman said this week plans for both properties were on track.

Final submissions were being made to the Environment Court on Long Bay and development should begin there next year.

Landco was keen to talk to the Government about Ngunguru, after the Department of Conservation was tipped as a possible buyer, she said.

"We need to talk to the new Minister of Conservation, Tim Groser, and see what his commitment is," she said.

Landco had no interest in the St Heliers properties because this was Mr Olliver's deal. The spokeswoman did not know if Mr Olliver was selling his own house.

Holleigh Mason of Kellands said this week many of the Waimarie St houses behind the eight Glover Rd places might be put on the market soon.

Westpac had called a mortgagee sale on the first eight on the ridge overlooking Glover Park and Guardian Trust wants the other six sold.

Open homes had brought hordes of people, some interested in buying all eight places but many keen to make a tender offer on just one.

* Tenders close on December 10.

- NZ Herald

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