Fire sprinklers flooding apartments, hard water stains on windows, rubbish chute blockages and construction defects are issues residents have dealt with inside New Zealand’s tallest apartment tower in the past year.
Chris Ivers for the body corporate committee of downtown Auckland’s $300 million, 57-level The Pacifica issued an annual report on the building ahead of this week’s annual meeting.
“Significant issues were the sprinkler floods and black water events. In general, the sprinkler floods were due to tradespeople or objects hitting sprinkler heads,” Ivers said of the tower, located between Commerce St and Gore St.
“In the second year, while we moved out of the construction defects period, there were still defects that had been lodged and are being addressed. These included hard water stains on external windows and the blockage in the rubbish chute. Both caused frustration for residents but after input by all parties they were resolved.”
The residents are their own worst enemies when it comes to blocked toilets.
“The black water floods were most often caused by wet wipes being flushed down toilets causing blockages. These floods have led to an increase in insurance costs with our excess leaping from $5000 to $25,000 per claim. An ongoing communication plan to residents and a system to flush the stacks were both put in place to mitigate these events,” the annual report said.
Regular communication had been made with residents, telling them not to flush wet wipes down toilets.
“Management of flooding incidents from setting up spill kits, drying out of affected areas, liaising with insurers,” was also cited in Ivers’ annual report in terms of dealing with floods from the wet wipes.
In 2021, the Herald reported how an empty drink bottle blocked a sewer pipe in the tower causing backup which damaged apartments - but that was quickly resolved.
Ivers indicated crime is also an issue. Key issues included liaison with police and the council on security in the CBD and additional security cameras being added, including out to Fort St.
Increased laneway security meant spikes were added to gates and new floodlights were installed.
Panic buttons were also installed for concierge staff under threat.
Rubbish chute blockages were resolved and new preventative systems were added to cut potential issues.
Resolution of remaining building defects included:
- Hard water stains on external windows, removed with cut and polish
- Spa tiles replaced and new edging put in place
- New diesel exhaust cowl in laneway
- Abseiling rails re-enforced
- Waterproofing under the swimming pool to fix leaks
- Security locks on every floor for rubbish chutes to enable cleaning safely
- Replacement of plants on the green wall in the lobby
Fire is another threat so extensive fire system testing and evacuation drills were undertaken in the year to ensure everything was working as expected. Teams have been trained on the evacuation process and building warrant of fitness requirements have been met.
But Ivers also wrote of positives: “Our beautiful building started to settle into itself with the community going from strength to strength. After two aborted attempts, we finally celebrated our first year with a spectacular party in the shell of the level 53 penthouse.
“Our thanks to Hengyi who allowed access to this amazing space,” Ivers said, referring to unsold top-level spaces by developer Hengyi Pacific.
As for the irksome penthouse that couldn’t be sold for what Hengyi wanted, that is now carved up to be sold in four lots.
Ivers wrote: “2023 will see Hengyi commence the subdivision of levels 53 and 54 and the commencement of the fit-out of four new penthouse apartments.”
Instead of asking $40m for the entire two-level top, residents say they have heard Hengyi wants around $10m to $15m each for four penthouses.
One resident expressed unhappiness with a proposed annual body corporate fee rise, which Ivers said would rise from the $2.44m operating year-to-date budget for 2022 to $2.7m for 2023.
Ivers defended that: “This is a 12 per cent increase on 2022. Given most businesses are anticipating between a 12-15 per cent increase in costs, this is in line with market expectations.”
One of the reasons for the increase is that the long-term management fee would rise from $300,000/year to $550,000/year.
The body corporate committee commissioned a review by an expert consultant on costs to keep the building 5-star in the long term.
“This report was circulated to all owners. The consultant recommended the long-term maintenance fee for 2023 be set at $550,000 plus GST,” Ivers said.
While the committee recognised that was a significant jump, maintaining the fund at the recommended level was a better option than burdening owners with a special levy in the future.
The resident also expressed concern about an artwork, budgeted to cost $60,000 although that amount of money was not spent.
“People are just so unhappy about all these rising costs,” said the resident, who didn’t wish to be named.
It was that person who supplied the documents to the Herald detailing what was going on in the building.
Ivers wrote that three new committee members were being sought after Liz Scott and Stephen Patterson announced they were leaving.
The AGM this week will see owners vote on the proposed 10 per cent fee rise in the long-term maintenance fund.
The Pacifica’s AGM will be held on Thursday, February 23, 5.30pm, at Barfoot & Thompson’s auction rooms, 34 Shortland St.