By ANNE GIBSON
More than 400 new apartment units worth at least $10 million are being built around the Viaduct Basin precinct, capitalising on the intense interest in the area in the lead-up to the America's Cup.
But the leaky homes crisis is making the developers nervous and at least two are promising they have taken steps to ensure the apartments do not leak.
Four developers are racing ahead with their projects, bringing armies of construction workers, earthworks, noise and pressure to the area.
The biggest project is by Princes Wharf developer David Henderson, as his Kitchener Group advances on the construction of 187 units in the towering, 19-level One Hobson block on the fringes of the basin, with pre-sales of 174 units.
Dr Robin Congreve and Chris Minty's Symphony Group is building The Parc in the heart of the area on the old City Markets site.
But their new development will lack an immediate interface with the waterfront, partially blocked by Congreve's own new office block.
Paul Duffy and Doug Somers-Edgar of the Money Managers/Dominion Funds conglomerate are the most successful combination in terms of timing.
They are only weeks away from finishing their Viaduct Pt, but this is also blocked from the water by The Point - a unit in which Duffy owns an apartment and which he developed in his previous job with Fletcher Properties.
Last off the starting blocks is Nigel McKenna with his still unnamed block right in the middle of the America's Cup syndicate bases on the Log Farm.
Kitchener is up to level 16 on its large block on the corner of Hobson and Fanshawe Sts, towards the city end of the precinct. Penthouse units in Hobson One are advertised for between $1.8 million and $2.4 million. Henderson said yesterday that units sold for an average of $250,000, but started at $130,000.
He has taken steps to make sure the units will not leak.
"Before the ranch sliders were put in place, we had them water-blasted to make sure that under extreme conditions, they didn't leak and we would not let the installer put them in until he got it 100 per cent right," he said.
"We had to do that, or we could have been in all sorts of trouble. When you get a really bad easterly wind, you get capillary reaction where the glass in the window flexes and pumps the water inside."
Symphony's Parc, a group of 15 five-level blocks, will bring a further 113 units to the area. They are expected to sell for between $495,000 and $2.3 million and all are arranged around a central courtyard area.
The only building between The Parc and the water is the new Oceania & Eastern Group's office block. The building, with curved walls, was finished this year. Congreve is a director of this company.
Dominion Fund's new 78-unit Viaduct Pt apartment building will be finished next month.
Simon Curtis of Dominion said tenants would move in before Christmas.
Deposits have been received on three-quarters of the block, which is on the corner of Pakenham St and Customs St West.
Dominion's sales manager Philip Toogood said last year that units in the one-bedroom and two-bedroom block would sell for between $205,000 and $355,000.
The block was designed by Craig Craig Moller and Australasian builder Multiplex put it up in record time.
Curtis said the new constructions, such as Viaduct Pt, were built from concrete, steel and treated timber, offering reassurance to buyers concerned about leaky buildings.
Units in The Point were selling for about a quarter more than buyers paid for them two or three years ago, Curtis said, showing how values were rising in the area.
"The opportunity for a change in lifestyle is driving many buyers, who are moving from larger traditional-styled homes in the suburbs," he said.
"They relish being close to everything, having no maintenance and being able to make difference choices about how to spend their leisure time. Security is a factor, too."
Work is under way on McKenna's five-level, 29-unit development in Halsey St, alongside the syndicate bases.
Units are being advertised for between $400,000 and $3 million each.
McKenna is also busy on the other side of the precinct where he is finishing his $100 million Beaumont Quarter apartment development, bringing 208 units to the old gas works site in Beaumont St.
Number One Hobson
Symphony property development
By ANNE GIBSON