Surgeon John Harman says people thought he was mad when he announced he was going into the property development business. Then when apartments in the luxury Remuera complex where he worked started selling off the plans, they told him he was lucky.
And now a show apartment has been completed for viewing and people can see what purchasers are getting, "they think I am a genius", says John.
He never had any doubts that he'd be able to come up with a first-class development.
"I live in an apartment, I've lived and worked in the area for years and I'm the target age group, so I had a very good idea of what people want," he says.
John developed the corner site where the clinic he owns, St Marks Breast Centre, was located partly because he wanted to build a state-of-the art medical facility, but also because he was looking for a project to work on after a wrist injury meant he could no longer operate.
When he decided to build apartments on the site, as well as a clinic, there were three important boxes that had to be ticked — the apartments had to be watertight, beautiful to look at and functional.
"Plus I also wanted them to be value for money," John says. "These places are over $2 million which is not cheap, but they are very high quality — you're getting the best."
He helped to drive the design, which was carried out by architects Peddle Thorp based on concept designs by Andrew Patterson. Knowing that most of the purchasers were likely to be older couples downsizing from large, family homes, he was keen to make sure apartment living provided them with benefits such as little maintenance, without curtailing their lifestyles.
"They can live the way they used to — they still want to be able to entertain, to have a decent-sized kitchen, to have outdoor space," says John. "We've provided that."
He insisted on details such as a 2.9m stud to make the apartments feels spacious, and lots of large windows so they're light and bright. There's plenty of storage, including a walk-in wardrobe with built-in shelving and drawers in the master bedrooms and the fixtures and fittings — such as brass tapware — are all top quality.
The open-plan living areas feature a generous kitchen with lots of storage space, including a cleverly concealed walk-in scullery. In the three-bedroom apartments, the kitchens have a stunning copper-clad central island with a striking marble bench top.
One particularly clever feature is the design of the deck. Large sliding glass doors can open it up to outside on warm days, or close it off and turn it into a conservatory-style sunroom. Another set of sliding doors between it and the internal living area can be opened, creating one huge space ideal for entertaining.
Other touches John hopes the residents will appreciate include gas bayonets on the deck for barbecues and underfloor heating in the fully-tiled bathrooms.
The three buildings housing the apartments are grouped around a courtyard which includes plenty of greenery, along with a plant-covered wall. The complex also includes an on-site cafe and a restaurant.
A fourth building on the site will house the breast clinic as well as other premises for other medical practitioners. The location of that building will block noise from the nearby motorway from reaching the residential part of the development.
St Marks is just a couple of minutes stroll from Newmarket, with all its shops and eateries in one direction, while Mt Hobson Domain is a few hundred metres away in the other.
"The location is just great, especially for people who love living in Remuera," says John.
With the apartments due to be ready for occupation in September, John says he is delighted with the way they have turned out. Building apartments has turned out to be a little like surgery, he says.
"It involves great precision, and you prepare carefully beforehand and you get a good outcome."
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