The first spade is in the ground at the site of what will be Wellington's first ever base-isolated apartment building.

Victoria Lane Apartments is a $140 million mixed-use development and one of the city's first major construction projects to start after lockdown, creating 300 jobs over the two-and-a-half-year build.

A sod-turning event is being held this morning, which mayor Andy Foster and Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson will attend.

The project is on 161 Victoria St and will include 24 base isolators, effectively separating the building structure from the ground. The building will also be wrapped in a diagonal grid of steel.

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The combination of these two resilience design measures means the building should withstand a one in 1000 year earthquake, compared to conventionally built high rise buildings designed to stand a one in 100 year seismic event.

The development includes 123 premium one, two and three-bedroom apartments, 90 per cent of which are already sold. Image / Supplied.
The development includes 123 premium one, two and three-bedroom apartments, 90 per cent of which are already sold. Image / Supplied.

The new build comes at the same other apartment owners in the city are facing massive bills to strengthen their buildings, which have been deemed earthquake prone.

Wellington apartment owner Michael Cummins is facing a $400,000 earthquake strengthening bill effectively "wiping out" his retirement plan.

His situation is echoed across the capital as hundreds face sleepless nights, losing their home, and are on the brink of "financial disaster".

Anything rated less than 34 per cent of the New Building Standard is considered earthquake prone.

The high resilience apartments on Victoria St have been developed by Willis Bond & Co and will be built by LT McGuinness.

Willis Bond director Dave McGuinness said they were excited to be getting the new build under way.

"It's great to know that this is one of the projects that will help get Wellington moving again following the Covid-19 lockdown and will see a highly resilient residential and commercial asset delivered to serve the city for years to come."

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The development includes 123 premium one, two and three-bedroom apartments, 90 per cent of which are already sold.

There will also be 3240sq m of new office space and ground floor retail spaces.

"The development combines several exceptional features for both residents and commercial tenants," McGuinness said.

"These include its leading-edge base-isolation technology, spectacular design, superb views, great transport links and easy access to the amenities and entertainment options within the vibrant Cuba Street district."

The project is expected to be completed by early 2023 with final apartments starting from $875,000.