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Luxury apartment block to top $50m

09 March 2012. Source: Fairfax NZ News
WBC News Living LR

A luxury apartment block, with harbour-view units selling for up to $5 million, is set to rise on the site of Wellington's old market building near Te Papa.  The $50m-plus One Market Lane is an 11-storey development on the vacant site beside the former John Chambers building between Cable St, Jervois Quay and Taranaki St.

An earlier $200m apartment and hotel development planned on the same site by Donald Stott's Land Equity Group failed in 2009 when financing fell through.

Willis Bond bought the block in 2010 and has since refurbished and tenanted the old John Chambers building and scaled back previous plans.

Project director David McGuinness said there had been substantial early interest. "People are still leaving big homes in the suburbs who are looking for smaller city pads, and people from the Hawke's Bay and Kapiti are looking for Wellington boltholes."

The cheapest of the 40 apartments, lower-level 85-square-metre ones with city views, were being sold off the plans for $650,000. All apartments on the harbour side would be more than $1m, with the 310sqm four-bedroomed penthouse priced at $5m.

This is less than half the price and half the size of the penthouse in the proposed Watermark development on the same site, which reportedly sold off the plans to a London investor for $12m.

That apartment was 750sqm and was to have included four bedrooms, a swimming pool, guest suite, separate one-bedroom studio apartment, wine cellar, climate controlled balcony and garaging for four cars.  Mr McGuinness was reluctant to make comparisons, saying it was a different era, but said even the modified penthouse was at the high end.

Most apartments in the new block were going for $1m to $2m. The developers were holding back two levels so apartments on those floors might be modified or even made smaller if market demand showed a buyer preference.

Harcourts Wellington sales manager Antonia Brown said Willis Bond was the biggest operator in the market at the moment and had done well with Clyde Quay, the $100m redevelopment of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where apartments were sold off the plans from $1.3m, with one understood to have sold for more than $7m.

That development had brought in a lot of buyers that might not have otherwise been in the market and One Market Lane was following on, she said.  The top apartment in the past two years is understood to have been $4m for a Chaffers Dock penthouse.

Both Clyde Quay and One Market Lane are expected to be completed in 2014.  Mr. McGuinness said the new project would include shops on the ground floor, two levels of parking and two and a half levels of office accommodation, topped by six levels of apartments.

Construction was scheduled to start later this year.

Craig Stewart, director of Stratum Management, which has built several big apartment developments in Cable St, Wakefield St and Tennyson St, said he was planning two other central Wellington apartment projects.  However, there was little other development going on in Wellington at present.