Pandemic fears are not denting sales at one luxury Remuera apartment project with nine contracts starting at $1.9 million at the scheme still one-and-a-half years away from completion.
Martin Cooper, developing the 15-unit $53m Elm in a joint venture with Clearwater Construction's Mike Sullivan, said 10 per cent deposits had been paid on seven apartments and a further two were under negotiation.
The pandemic had spurred sales, not dented them, he said.
"We thought we'd get to somewhere close to this number of sales by October but the level of interest has just blown us away," Cooper said.
"The pandemic lockdown gave people time to think," he said of buyers who are retired or semi-retired, mainly older and female, and live in the area.
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"Originally we were meant to launch this in the first week of the level 4 lockdown. Obviously that changed things quickly. There was a knock-on effect with suppliers, getting our renders finished [and everything] so we had to switch pretty quickly to online marketing. It gave a lot of people time to think during the lockdown and reflect on what's important to them," Cooper said from a show suite at the site.
Sale one came in late March when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand's entry into alert level 4 national lockdown.
"The first buyer emailed us 20 minutes after Jacinda's announcement," Cooper said. The pandemic spurred buyers, it didn't deter them.
"These buyers are looking for safety, security, luxury. They don't want to go into bigger blocks so 25 units is too many for them. We've probably had 100 groups since opening the show suites on the first day of level 2 in May so we've only been open for about eight weeks."
The developer-builder joint venture between Experiences by Coopers and Countrywide Residences meant "tension is just not there, like in the more traditional adversarial situation between developer and builder", Cooper said.
The four-level block is going up on a 1417sq m site on the edge of the multi-unit zone under the Unitary Plan. The venture plans a 28-car basement with some of those vehicles stacked one above the other in a scheme from Germany's Wohr.
Apartments have two to three parks each. The site slopes so the parking has been incorporated into the natural contour, saving Clearwater the expense of digging a full-level basement.
Prices for the units designed by Christchurch's +MAP and Lukas Design range from $1.9m for a 108sq m apartment to $7.4m for a 270sq m unit, equivalent to about $34,000/sq m without decks or $28,000/sq m including balconies, Cooper said.
Prices were roughly double those at Mission Bay's completed Outlook , the 43-unit scheme he finished recently in another joint venture with Clearwater.
Elm takes its name from one of the streets it fronts, Elmstone Ave, but Cooper said it was also a reference to the nearby Elmstone, the opulent Heritage New Zealand-rated English Renaissance-style house on the corner of Remuera Rd and Orakei Rd. That stately mansion was built in 1909-10 to a design by architect B. C. Chilwell for businessman Victor Larner.
Elmstone at 468 Remuera Rd has architectural significance as one of the last area homes built in that style, just before arts and crafts-style houses came into fashion.