The race to build New Zealand's tallest new residential tower is heating up, as developers of a planned 187m Auckland apartment skyscraper claim victory over the 178m Pacifica now rising nearby.
Both blocks are being built by companies with strong connections to China.
Harrison Shao, general manager of Shundi Customs which is building the newly-named Seascape Apartments at 83 Customs Street East in the Britomart area, said the new 52-level tower would be that tallest building apart from the Sky Tower.
"At a height of 187m, the visually striking Seascape Apartments will be 15m higher than the current Vero Building and 9m higher than the proposed Pacifica apartment building in the CBD," Shundi said.
Melbourne-headquartered Hengyi Pacific is building The Pacifica which will be 57 levels.
Yet Seascape is to be 9m taller than Pacifica, Shundi said.
"Construction is now underway on Seascape Apartments, which will be the highest residential building in New Zealand, only exceeded in height by the Sky Tower," Shundi said.
Liz Scott, Hengyi Pacific's New Zealand general manager, wished Shundi all the best and said construction works had been taking place on the site for months.
"It's not a surprise to us. It's not new news to us. There have been resource consent plans in the public arena for some time around that development. It's all about delivery of a quality product," she said, citing advanced Pacifica ground works.
"There's lots of resource consents around for lots of things but we're building and we have a quality product."
The Seascape tower was previously called Customs Residential, about which publicity first emerged about two years ago.
John Coop, chairman and principal of architecture business Warren and Mahoney, welcomed tall blocks generally, saying Auckland needed them to accommodate apartment dwellers.
"I'm a strong supporter of the central city, inner-city living and having a growing resident population in the city. I'm a supporter of high-quality tall buildings that are designed well. The Unitary Plan enables height in the centre of Auckland which is where our tall buildings should be. It's also important that tall buildings in Auckland are recognisably of Auckland, that they express Auckland's identity, otherwise we will end up with an anonymous city," Coop said.
Shundi said a ground-breaking ceremony was planned for this afternoon.
"Seascape Apartments and two existing adjacent buildings on Customs Street East is a development by New Zealand-based property company Shundi Customs. Seascape Apartments was designed by architects Peddle Thorp, with Mott Macdonald as engineers. China Construction New Zealand is responsible for the building work," Shundi said.
"Seascape will house 221 apartments. The apartments will all be north-facing, with expansive sea views. The top six floors will be taken up by penthouse apartments, offering 360 degree views over the city and environs," Shundi said.
"The complete Shundi Customs development project also includes the refurbishment, recladding, conversion and seismic strengthening of the 12-storey office building on the corner of Fort Street and Customs Street East. This will become the boutique San He Yuan Hotel that provide integrated service to the residents as well. Work on the 4.5-star hotel will start in August this year and should be completed in tandem with Seascape Apartments in 2021.
"At the same time, the heritage Britomart Hotel – a public house dating from 1876 – on the corner of Gore Street and Customs Street East will be refurbished and renovated for commercial use. The development plan for this building is in the final stages of being finalised," Shundi said.
Marketing Seascape apartments will begin before the end of this year but the sales process won't start until half-way through construction "to demonstrate a higher level of fit-out quality and provide more confidence to purchasers than selling off plans", Shundi said.
Shundi Customs says it is "a New Zealand based company backed by Shanghai Shenshun Investment, an established property developer from Shanghai. Shanghai Shenshun Investment has developed the boutique San He Yuan Hotel in Shanghai, as well as several high-rise office buildings, luxury villas and residential apartments".