Construction has started on one of Auckland's most scenic waterfront spots where 17 separate street addresses are owned by one entity.
A builder estimated the project on land owned by Tokoeka Properties - whose directors include one of New Zealand's wealthiest men, Berridge Spencer - at $15 million.
The 17 titles on approximately 1.5h at Stanley Point Rd were estimated four years ago to be worth at least $50m, although Auckland Council lists it at only $34.5m for rating purposes.
Two jetties, a shingle-tiled boatshed the size of a small home, clusters of mature native trees and north-facing gently sloping land are features of the site, more akin to a small lifestyle block on the fringes of the city than a singly-owned residential property.
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Waide Construction won the tender for the new house.
Property records show Tokoeka owns Stanley Point Rd sites at 60, 62, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72, 76, 78, 80, 82, 84, 86, 88, 89, 90 and 92.
These have been associated with the Spencer family for generations, including with grandfather Berridge Spencer, his sons John and Peter Spencer, and now Berridge and Olivia Spencer.
Berridge Spencer has substantial Waiheke Island interests at the award-winning Man O' War Vineyards.
John Spencer, who died in England in 2016, was Berridge Spencer's father and New Zealand's richest man for some years. John Spencer topped the NBR Rich List in 1986 and 1987 with an estimated $675m due to ownership of the Caxton paper empire.
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Berridge Spencer senior built Caxton into the country's largest pulp and paper producer. Caxton Printing Works was founded in Auckland by his father, Albert, in 1890. Berridge Spencer senior expanded the business after World War I, opening a mill at Kawerau and a printing works at Henderson.
Caxton Pulp & Paper had a monopoly in tissue paper and other household products. John Spencer ran the company for seven years until it was sold after the sharemarket collapse in 1988 to Carter Holt Harvey for an estimated $300m.
The new house project sites are the almost half-hectare 70 Stanley Point Rd at 4856sq m and the 1462sq m at 76 Stanley Point Rd, according to council documents that notes Tokoeka Properties does not own 74 Stanley Pt Rd.
Tokoeka applied to build on the site around 2016.
This year, it was granted variations to its existing resource consent to build a slightly smaller two-level home than originally planned which fits more into the surrounding landscape. A large older residence has been demolished and a number of trees removed, although extensive new planting is estimated by those in the area to be worth at least $100,000.
One local said that to clear the site, exotic monkey apple trees and phoenix palms were among the many removed, replaced by native pōhutukawa, titoki and pūriri.
The council's resource consents says: "The proposed new design is for a more compressed structure of a more modern design at the same location, also with two-storeys and five bedrooms with a pool and pool house, but without the guest bedroom."
A garage structure and a driveway of reduced dimension are also planned.
Building consent was issued on May 9 for construction of the new dark brick and steel house with chimneys, attached garage, separate detached garage, pool and associated landscape works. The duration of earth and building works is anticipated to be 18 months.
The contract was for demolition of an existing house and construction of a new two-storey English cottage-style house. The first floor will be 239sq m and include a master bedroom, en suite, walk-in wardrobe, storeroom and two additional bedrooms. Consent was given for removal of 15 trees.
The architects were listed as Fearon Hay and Sumich Chaplin.
Ollie Wall, of Wall Real Estate, said the land value alone of the property could be worth around $50m: "A property of that scale on Auckland's waterfront could easily sell in that vicinity. It's what the whole world wants and there's no price limit on paradise."
Chris Darby, one of two North Shore councillors and a neighbour, said: There can't be too many examples in Auckland where one family, over four generations and 100 years, has retained ownership of such a significant site. It's an urban oasis of calm, blessed by nature and just 1.5km as the crow flies from the bottom of Queen St.
"It's good to hear the originally-proposed proud-on-the-landscape Remuera-style manor house design has been binned in favour a more context-sensitive design nestled into the landscape," Darby said.
Questions about the project were sent to Clendon lawyer Brian Joyce but no response was received.
A woman, who did not identify herself but on Wednesday drove out of one of the Tokoeka Properties-owned homes, said a Herald inquiry had been passed on "but we're not interested in commenting".