A new complex offers an alternative to the suburbs, says Donna McIntyre.

A new apartment development close to the CBD is proving popular with first-home buyers.

The Sugartree complex, being built between Nelson St and Union St, offers "a different urban concept" - live, work, play and relax - says project director Darren Brown.

Most of the apartments will have harbour or city views and the buildings' foyers will have greenery, water features, retail space, cafes and wine bars.

"We see them as an alternative for buyers who struggle to find a first home in the city. If you look at Ponsonby or Freemans Bay, you're looking at $1 million. That's out of most first-home buyers' leagues," says Darren.


Sugartree, made up of three buildings, Prima, Centro and Altro, is a joint venture between investors Lily Investment FTC and local developers Wayne Allen and Darren.

Work on Prima, the first stage, is due to start mid next year with completion scheduled for October 2014. Facing the bridge with views back to Ponsonby, the building has two levels of underground car parking, a plaza level with retail and hospitality ventures and then 10 floors of apartments with 16 units on each floor.

The units are being sold off the plans, with

a display apartment at 145 Nelson St (on the part of the street dipping down from the main road). Four colour schemes are offered and the showroom, in "Wanaka" tones, has photos indicating the views from the fifth and tenth levels.

The apartments, mainly facing north, are sized around 50sq m for one-bedroom units and 75sq m for those with two bedrooms. Apartment configurations differ but include open-plan living with kitchen, bedroom(s) and bathroom(s) and most have balconies.

Virgil Roberts, who is marketing the apartment for Ray White, says the kitchens particularly are a great set-up with Bosch appliances.

There has been strong interest from first-home buyers and baby boomers looking to downsize. "It's a 10-minute walk to the city and to Ponsonby. It sits nicely in between," he says.

Buyers pay $1000 when they sign up, with the balance of 10 per cent of the apartment's value to be paid within 14 days of purchase. This deposit is held in trust and the balance is due when the apartment is completed. (Non-New Zealand residents pay a further 10 per cent deposit once the development proceeds to construction.)