KBS Capital plans to build Amaia, a new urban coastal village, on Shoal Bay on Auckland's North Shore. It's a $350 million regeneration project on the 2.1 ha Esmonde Rd site that was formerly home to Takapuna's Harbourside Church.
Project lead Dean Kimpton says it is a premium development at a unique location with water views on three sides. An added advantage is that it integrates well with Auckland's transport network.
This is an important element in Greater Auckland's urban regeneration and a selling point with prospective buyers.
"It's got rapid access to the city," Kimpton says. "Outside the rush hour you can be in central Auckland in 10 minutes. You can walk into Takapuna in ten minutes, or you can catch a bus. There will also be an onsite shuttle bus to help residents alleviate car use.
"There are plenty of public transport options and there will be share cars as well private vehicle options for people who want purchase onsite car parks. The site is about 750 metres from the State Highway 1 on-ramp. The developer says there will be onsite charging facilities for people with electric cars."
Amaia is about 500 metres from the Akoranga Northern Express bus station but part of the design for the site includes a bus stop for local buses that go directly across the Harbour Bridge or back into Takapuna.
Kimpton says the developers have put a lot of thought into walking and cycling. There's a proposal for a route through the site connecting with the Waka Kotahi Northern Pathway project. This is a planned dedicated walking and cycling link that connects North Shore suburbs directly to Auckland city centre. Eventually it will run all the way to Albany.
There's a planned boardwalk and bridge structure that will link up with the walking and cycling route that goes through nearby Bayswater through Francis St. This is being built in collaboration with Auckland Transport and the local Auckland Council Board. Residents would be able to walk or cycle to the Bayswater ferry terminal. This route means cyclists and pedestrians can avoid the busy stretch of Lake Rd. It will also give Amaia residents fast access to some of the city's best beaches.
He says the developers have a clear vision about what they intend to achieve on the site. "It's an urban village on a coastal setting. It sits on a small hill which gives it an island feeling. The site is 2.1 ha, 7,000 square metres of that will be green reserve space and that will be open to the public. The developers acknowledge the importance of the site to local iwi so they have been working with tangata whenua on the design.
"There are established pōhutukawa, other native trees and some urban forest or ngahere on the site. They aim to maintain the existing trees and to regenerate the ngahere because this all adds to the experience people will have. It's also an important part of the environment. Where there are exotic trees, they will be replaced progressively by natives which will further improve the environment." Where the site meets the harbour there is a shallow foreshore area where it would be possible to launch canoes or paddle boards.
KBS is keen to get started on what is expected to be a five year project involving 250 jobs.
There's a three-stage approach to construction. The first two stages fit within the current height constraints for the site. Kimpton says the developers are close to getting resource consent for this work.
A third stage that includes a tower needs a plan change. The developer is now working through that process looking at what the requirements for a plan change will be. The developers aim to finish stage three about two years after completing the first two stages.
Eventually the urban village will be made up of a group of buildings with variable heights designed to be sympathetic with the geography. There will be a retail space and hospitality spaces on the ground level around a communal plaza. All of this will be open to the public.
Jasmax is the architectural firm designing Amaia. Development lead Alistair Ray says; "the island nature of the site presents an opportunity to design a group of buildings viewed from all directions requiring a high-quality architectural response.
"There will be some mixed use. The original plan was to build a hotel in stage one with units facing east and west.
That's still an option, but after the impact of Covid, the merits of a traditional managed hotel is being revisited. It could be hotel-style apartments instead, or it could be freehold apartments. We expect there to be a total of around 150 apartments in this stage. The mixed-use faculties in the first stage will include a gym, a pharmacy and some small café-like activities. There is also a double height lobby overlooking the civic plaza and community room for residents to hold meetings."
Stage two will include three buildings with apartments in a range of sizes and at different prices.
A total of 81 apartments are planned for this stage. They are designed to appeal to both first home buyers and to people downsizing from larger suburban properties. The developers expect interest from New Zealanders returning home from overseas as well as couples, young families and singles.
The developers will soon appoint a constructor who will be able to integrate design and construction. This is with a view to getting building consent later this year.
Although there was an existing development on the site, it is relatively isolated. This means there will be significantly less disruption during the construction stage that would normally be the case when a site is redeveloped.
Kimpton says the developers expect to start on the earthworks and foundations later this year. Stages one and two are due for completion by 2023.
KBS Capital Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brilliant Stone and has been involved on other projects in the Auckland area.
The largest is Hobson Green, a large greenfield development on the border of Hobsonville Point. This is now well under way with the first stage almost complete. The development includes terraced, duplex and standalone homes along with a commercial and retail centre.
Dean Kimpton chairs the Building Advisory Panel which provides MBIE's Deputy Chief Executive of Building, Resources and Markets with independent strategic advice on issues facing the construction sector so it can support an innovative and high-performing sector.
Kimpton is an engineer with extensive local government and governance experience and is a specialist consultant to the infrastructure, utility and construction sectors. He is currently the director of his own consulting firm, Tuhura Consulting. Prior to this, he was the Chair of the Board of QuakeCoRE, President of Engineering NZ, Auckland Council Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of Aecom NZ.