Supermarket developer says mix of retail, offices and apartments could be the shape of things to come.

The first two buildings are up at the $250 million Vinegar Lane and Cider Building project in Ponsonby and a property boss says it could be the shape of things to come.

Adrian Walker, Progressive Enterprises' property general manager, said the mix of shops, offices and apartments in with the new Countdown just off Ponsonby Rd was something entirely different for the company and he did not rule out a repeat.

"We build supermarkets so this is obviously not what we normally do. We didn't need to utilise the entire site to get this supermarket. But we would do this again. There's going to be a lot more opportunity to do multi-use developments, with apartments, retail, offices and potentially other uses. This could be the first of a whole new generation of projects, particularly in Auckland, given the projected growth and limited supply of land."

Vinegar Lane/Cider Building

• New mixed urban community rising in Ponsonby


• Between Crummer Rd, Williamson Ave and Pollen St

• Countdown supermarket, new Fairfax offices carparks beneath new Cider/Countdown block

• More than 223 apartments planned

The bespoke architecturally-designed hub, where about 300 people will live and more than 1000 will work, has risen on what locals once dubbed "Sohole" the chasm off Ponsonby Rd created by former owner Lane Kells who planned the Soho Square project there.

Walker described the role of Brady Nixon, a Progressive development manager on the new scheme: "He's been with the process from day one, negotiating the purchase and instrumental in putting together the development of the site."

Transport blogger Patrick Reynolds says it's far too early yet to say whether the project is good "but good to see that site being developed, and not unintensively."

Nixon said each of the 31 new buildings would be unique.

Real estate agent Craig Watkins sold all the sites for about $16 million "and eight sites have sold again since, for twice the price of what we did when we started three to three-and-a-half years ago," he said.

Nixon said a key to the project was an urban design committee comprising himself, project master planner David Irwin of Isthmus Group, architect Pete Bossley and urban designer Peter Joyce of Auckland Council.

"We vet all the projects and make sure they look good," Nixon said of the process.

The first new buildings have all the hallmarks of today's architectural design: pre-cast concrete panel walls, timber floors, exposed building services such as pipes, cedar-lined balconies, dramatic internal staircases, industrial-style lighting and exterior privacy screens, drawn in front of floor-to-ceiling windows.

"Most of the project, or 70 per cent of it, will be up by the end of this year," Nixon said.

On the corner of Vinegar Lane and Crummer Rd, the first two commercial/retail/apartment buildings are up and tenants have shifted into some floors while other floors are still being fitted out.

Architect Shaun Marlo and business partner Wayne Schuler developed and designed the two buildings: a cafe/office/apartment block at 1 Vinegar Lane including Cafe Roost, retail outlet Maggie Potter, Salt Recruitment on level one, and apartments above.

That building stands directly behind the ASB Community Trust's historic Allendale at 50 Ponsonby Rd. Marlo said a 10cm gap was all that separated the two precast concrete panels which formed the new block's northern wall and the old building.

At 5 Crummer Rd, also on the Vinegar Lane corner and diagonally opposite, is the second block. Apartments in those two buildings have sold for more than $2 million each and some of the units on the site will have swimming pools.

Ebert Construction is building the new nine-level Cider Building on the corner of Williamson Ave and Pollen St, where a 4000sq m Countdown will open this year and where Fairfax has leased 3500sq m. The building is four levels above ground and five below, housing 680 carparks.

Mitchell Jefferson, Legacy Property development manager, said the 20-unit four-level ARIA Apartments would rise on Vinegar Lane's lot 7 and include two levels of carparking and one of offices.

"These have all been sold off the plan and construction has just commenced.

"Completion is expected in April 2017."

See a Google map of the site here: