Trees. Open spaces. Gardens. Water features. The new Sugartree apartment development is a far cry from the square boxes built in the past decade.

It has been designed as a community in its own right on the edge of the city, says developer Darren Brown. Residents will step out of their buildings into green open spaces instead of the concrete jungle. A rooftop garden will also be available for residents and guests only, and a bar/cafe will be opened.

The design links Nelson St to Union St allowing easy access for residents to Freeman's Bay, which is just five minutes' walk away.

Phase one of the three-building freehold Sugartree complex is under construction with completion due later this year. About 90 per cent of the apartments in the "Prima" block have been sold off the plan, says Brown. The second stage, "Centro", is being sold off the plan, with about 30 per cent of apartments already gone.


Sugartree is the first complex to arise anew in Auckland CBD since the global financial crisis, although more are planned. The rules for development have changed and it shows in the design and construction. For example, the buildings can no longer jut right up to the boundary, says Brown. The three blocks are set 10-15m back, which means no one will ever find themselves looking out of a balcony right on to the neighbours.

There is no guarantee that the views, which include a glimpse of water and the harbour bridge at lower levels and spectacular panoramas higher up, will not be built over. But it's unlikely, says Brown, thanks to height restrictions on surrounding sites.

A notable feature that differentiates the buildings from many earlier city blocks is that the basic construction materials are concrete and steel. No new-fangled building materials that leak, as some buildings had in the past. "We have a structure that is bullet-proof," says Brown.

Another big difference with Sugartree is the size of individual apartments. The smallest units start at 42sq m and the larger ones range up to 111sq m, which are well suited to owner-occupier living. The fact that there are no shoebox apartments in the complex is due in part to council regulations and also the aim to "create something different", says Brown.

Interest in buying the apartments ranges from young couples looking to get on to the property ladder to older people who want to leave the hard work of the quarter-acre paradise behind them. As with other new build property, there is an exemption from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR) speed limit, meaning many buyers will be able to get a foot in the door with a 10 per cent deposit.

The development has a retail complex at the lower levels, which means there will be cafes, restaurants, a mini supermarket and medical centre on site once all three buildings are completed. Not just any businesses will do and there is a retail master plan, which ensures a sustainable balance for both residents and retail tenants, says Brown.

Car parks are not included in the apartment prices, but are available from $69,500. Each apartment has its own 2cu m storage unit in the basement.

The complex is 10 minutes' walk to Queen Street and 15 minutes from the Britomart transport hub. The Pitt Street station on the proposed City Rail Link will be five minutes' walk away.

Sugartree has its own sales office on site with a full-size 67sq m sales apartment, and is also marketing through City Sales and other real estate agencies.

On offer: 43sq m to 110sq m apartments.
Price indication: $309,000 to $900,000.
On the web:
Schools: Freemans Bay Primary, Ponsonby Intermediate, Auckland Girls' Grammar and Western Springs College.
Features: 620-apartment development in three phases.
Body corporate: Crockers.
Constructed by: Kalmar Construction.
Architect & structural engineer: Babbage.
Contact: Lara Thompson, ph 022 639 3028.