Olly and Martha Van Arts always imagined living in a New York loft-style apartment but figured they'd have to wait until their four kids had flown the nest.

But when they viewed the display suite for warehouse apartments in a development in Newton, they realised they could not only achieve their dream but also give their children a new experience of urban living.

Haylin, 13, Miller, 10, Isobel, 7, and Ophelia, 5, think it's a great idea and can't wait to move into their new home in the SKHY precinct at the end of September.



"It's pretty unusual for a family of six to go from living in a standard suburban home, but we think it is going to be a great new lifestyle for us all," says Olly.

"The kids thought it was cool, and we were just blown away by what it offered and how well the apartments were done."

There are just three apartments left in stage one of SKHY (pronounced sky), once a 1970s 12-storey office block that was the headquarters of the Winstone Group.

The Van Arts are pleased they secured their place when they did.

Khyber Pass Rd, City. Photo / Supplied
Khyber Pass Rd, City. Photo / Supplied

"Initially we were looking for a typical villa but then an apartment appealed because houses require so much work," says Olly, adding that he'd rather spend his spare time having fun with his family than doing the gardening and maintaining a home.

"We thought it would be good to try something different, and we looked at SKHY because we loved the location — it's so close to everything."

As well as the proximity to the city centre and the many cafes and restaurants on the doorstep, Newton has a lot to offer.

The Van Arts are looking forward to being able to pop down the road to the Auckland Domain and making good use of the Olympic swimming pool in nearby Newmarket.

SKHY is in sought-after school zones and also handy for the University of Auckland.

The SKHY display suite showed off the semi-industrial loft-style design the family liked.

Designed by architect Pip Cheshire for developers Lamont and Co, they are simple but striking, and include features like 3.6m ceilings and exposed concrete beams and columns.

"They are a bit of a blank canvas — you can add your own touches," says Olly. "And because it was done by Pip Cheshire, you know you are getting quality."

The clincher for Olly and Martha was that a 20sq m room adjoining the three-bedroom apartment they were interested in was available to buy on a separate title.

Khyber Pass Rd, City. Photo / Supplied
Khyber Pass Rd, City. Photo / Supplied

"So we bought that, and we will be using it as a playroom and X-Box room for the kids."

Olly is looking forward to everyone hanging out in the living area of their 162sq m apartment, rather than being dispersed around a large home.

"I think it is going to be good for us as a family."

Another bonus was being able to buy storage space for bikes, surfboards and golf clubs.

The family has already met some of the other residents, who welcome the fact that children will be living in the development.

"They've been so friendly," says Olly. "The kids are already talking about doing things like walking the neighbours' dogs."

One of the goals of developers Lamont and Co is to create a great sense of community in SKHY.

"We'd love it if people got to know their neighbours," says director Tim Lamont. "We seem to be attracting a range of buyers, which is great."

As well as the re-purposed tower where the Van Arts will be living, there will be three other buildings in the precinct, set around a landscaped plaza.

• Just three apartments remaining in stage one of new precinct SKHY, in a 12-storey tower block (entry at 5 Hohipere St), transformed into apartments by renowned architect Pip Cheshire. Close to the city, Newmarket and Mt Eden, along with the Auckland Domain, and also handy for the motorway and public transport.
• Land 1067sq m, house 210sq m.
• Price: $1.1m-plus (CV $1.3m).
• STAGE ONE (completed): Three remaining, apartments have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
1) Apartment 101 is 117sq m with a 25sqm balcony and two car parks. $1.45 million.
2) Apartment 107 is 162sq m with two car parks. $1.595 million.
3) Apartment 405 is 80sq m with a 10sq m balcony and one car park. $1.1 million
• STAGE TWO (under construction): 2x1 bed, 1 bath, 1 car park, 51sq m with a 8sqm balcony from $695,000 to $750,000. Three two storey 2 bed, 2 bath, 1 car park, 79sq m – 80sq m with 8sq m balcony, from $1,025,000 to $1,205,000.
• Inspect: For an appointment to visit the display suite, call 0800 754 989.
• Body corp: Starting from (approx) $3068 a year.
• Schools: Newmarket School, Kowhai Intermediate, Auckland Girls' Grammar, Auckland Grammar.
• Contact: Juliet Lichtenstein and Lesley McLellan, Colliers International, 0800 754 989 or 021 521 532 (Juliet) or 027 453 5070 (Lesley), barfoot.co.nz/760233