A prime spot overlooking Virginia Lake in Whanganui is set to be developed into nine apartments.
Whanganui man Geoff Mackintosh is behind the project and wanted a development that would measure up to the prime position it holds - currently an empty section on the corner of Great North Rd and Parkes Ave in St John's Hill.
"It needs a piece of architecture that's fitting within that environment and complementary to the surroundings," he said.
The complex, provisionally called Lake House, will be nine apartments on the 0.16ha former Shangri-La Restaurant site.
There will be 14 car parks underneath the building, and a rooftop garden.
Five are under contract to a mix of local and out-of-town people, and the others are not yet for sale.
Mackintosh got resource consent for the apartments in the last couple of weeks, but said building is unlikely to begin before early next year.
Mackintosh bought the former Shangri-La section about six years ago, with Laurie Gibbs.
They demolished the restaurant and he bought Gibbs out.
Deciding what to put there has occupied much of his last four years.
His first thought was a restaurant and accommodation, but that proved impractical and he settled on apartments.
He designed them with help from an architect and engineers, and the three immediate neighbours were happy to sign off on the development.
The two- and three-bedroom apartments range in size from 140 to 180sq m.
The concrete construction will need 120 tonnes of steel and the double glazed and soundproof windows will keep out highway noise.
Mackintosh will take a hand in the interior fitout. He doesn't know how much the build will cost but is talking to local contractors.
The apartments will be sold each with an individual title that falls under a body corporate structure.
Whanganui clearly needs more housing, he said.
Apartment living doesn't suit everyone, Mackintosh said, but it frees people from home maintenance duties and makes other pastimes possible.
As the apartments will share a roof and walls, they use fewer materials and are more sustainable than standalone houses.
The apartments aren't the end of Mackintosh's plans for the lake area.
He has a vision that extends across SH3 and into the premier Rotokawau/Virginia Lake reserve.
It won't be the first project Mackintosh has done in Whanganui, where his family has lived for five generations.
He developed the Vega Restaurant and during 14 years of ownership he refurbished and earthquake strengthened the former Central Fire Station in Guyton St.
More recently he spent seven years in Hong Kong and China, managing hotel and retail interior fitouts. He's been back in Whanganui for five years.
He studied design in Wellington and said adding value to places he sees as underutilised gives him great satisfaction and motivates him more than money.
The former Shangri-La section is one of those places, and it was the restaurant was where his parents got married.