Executive director of the Auckland Trotting Club Rod Croon may have stepped in only last month to guide the completion of the first stage of the club's Alexandra Park village, but he is an enthusiast about what the racetrack-edge project can provide.
"This will be the cultural centre of Epsom," he says. "There's a village, with a main street in a very affluent area that doesn't really have this. You'd have to go to Ellerslie in one direction, Newmarket in the other. Lots of our buyers have lived here all their lives, but want something with a heart."
The genesis of the development, which over the next 10 years will replace huge chunks of the existing grandstand for more multi-level blocks of housing, along with retail outlets along pedestrian-friendly streets and boulevards, came after Croon's stint as president of the club ended in 2012.
The club briefed Canadian urban designers Civitas to create the community master plan, knowing their background in new urbanism and an emphasis on density, walkability and creating interesting housing types.
Architects RTA Studio were called on to design the first two main blocks, five- and eight-level buildings wrapping around the high street.
"The buildings have maximum views across the fields, or up to One Tree Hill," says RTA director Ben Hayes. "The upper levels have views to the Waitakere ranges, the city and Waitemata beyond.
"The scale of the High Street is to encourage pedestrian activity and outdoor dining, activating both the high street and next to the track itself."
A few of the key retailers are already in place, says Bayleys retail sales and leasing manager Shalini Hira, with more contracts being signed for end of year occupancy.
The company has announced a Fresh Choice food market, and name restaurateurs Madam Woo, Lone Star and the first Auckland Joe's Garage. More restaurants and cafes, a pharmacy and fitness operators are expected.
The development has been in the news when the original builders failed to meet construction deadlines. Croon says that new builders, Ganellen for B block and CMP for A block, are on track.
Of the first buyers who committed to buy the 246 apartments back in 2016 for a 2017 occupancy, only 24 opted to take the sunset clause and cancel their buys, a testament, the club feels, to the appeal of the development.
On the new build schedule, blocks should be available for occupancy at the end of this year.
The apartment designs were the first to signal a new generation that was not small, pokey with un-usable balconies, says Hayes.
"The apartments have been oriented to maximise the views and capture the sunlight, they are oversized and designed with large outdoor space," he says.
"Most have generous garden rooms, enclosed with perforated aluminium or glass screens for privacy. They create a series of dynamic facades, and feel like a garden in the sky."
The architects included features not common in apartments — sculleries for appliances adjacent to the kitchens, separate laundry rooms and storage, study nooks, stud heights at 2.7m.
The garden rooms become flexible living spaces that can be used in all but the worst weather. All come with either one or two car parks.
Croon is not surprised that many of the trotting club's members have bought apartments, but double grammar zoning means that the bigger apartments could also appeal to families wanting easy access to schools, Cornwall Park and bus links to Newmarket and the city.
Completion is due by the year's end.
ALEXANDRA PARK VILLAGE, GREENLAND WEST
• BLOCK A: 1-bed, 1-bath 56sq m (plus 10sq m deck) $672,000.
• BLOCK A: 2-bed, 2-bath from 87 to 107sq m (plus 11sq m deck) from $1.218 million to $1.8 million.
• BLOCK A: 3-bed, 2-bath, 132sq m (plus 34sq m deck) $2.1 million.
• BLOCK B: 1-bed, 1-bath 61-69sq m (plus 7-23sq m deck) from $793,000.
• BLOCK B: 2 bed, 2-bath 99-129sq m (plus 16-39sq m deck) from $1.782 million to $1.818 million.
• BLOCK B: 3-bed, 2-bath 129-154sq m (plus 20-25sq m decks) from $2.967 million to $3.234 million.
• Inspect: Display suite open 1-3pm daily, Gate-D 223 Greenlane West.
• Contact: Shalini Hira, Bayleys, 021 175 4657.
• On The Web: APLiving.co.nz