Skyscraper wars: New 187m Auckland tower claims record

kkThe race to build New Zealand’s tallest new residential tower is heating up, as developers of a planned 187m Auckland apartment skyscraper claim victory over the 178m Pacifica now rising nearby. Both blocks are being built by companies with strong connections to China. Harrision Sha, general manager of Shundi Customs which is building the newly-named Seascape Apartments at 83 Customs Street East in the Britomart area, said the new 52-level tower would be that tallest building apart from the Sky Tower. “At a height of 187m, the visually striking Seascape Apartments will be 15m higher than the current Vero Building and 9m higher than the proposed Pacifica apartment building in the CBD,” Shundi said.

Melbourne-headquartered Hengyi Pacific is building The Pacifica which will be 57 levels. Yet Seascape is to be 9m taller than Pacifica, Shundi said. “Construction is now underway on Seascape Apartments, which will be the highest residential building in New Zealand, only exceeded in height by the Sky Tower,” Shundi said. Liz Scott, Hengyi Pacific’s New Zealand general manager, wished Shundi all the best and said construction works had been taking place on the site for months. “It’s not a surprise to us. It’s not new news to us. There have been resource consent plans in the public arena for some time around that development. It’s all about delivery of a quality product,” she said, citing advanced Pacifica ground works. “There’s lots of resource consents around for lots of things but we’re building and we have a quality product.”

The Seascape tower was previously called Customs Residential, about which publicity first emerged about two years ago. John Coop, chairman and principal of architecture business Warren and Mahoney, welcomed tall blocks generally, saying Auckland needed them to accommodate apartment dwellers. “I’m a strong supporter of the central city, inner-city living and having a growing resident population in the city. I’m a supporter of high-quality tall buildings that are designed well. The Unitary Plan enables height in the centre of Auckland which is where our tall buildings should be. It’s also important that tall buildings in Auckland are recognisably of Auckland, that they express Auckland’s identity, otherwise we will end up with an anonymous city,” Coop said. Shundi said a ground-breaking ceremony was planned for this afternoon.

“Seascape Apartments and two existing adjacent buildings on Customs Street East is a development by New Zealand-based property company Shundi Customs. Seascape Apartments was designed by architects Peddle Thorp, with Mott Macdonald as engineers. China Construction New Zealand is responsible for the building work,” Shundi said. “Seascape will house 221 apartments. The apartments will all be north-facing, with expansive sea views. The top six floors will be taken up by penthouse apartments, offering 360 degree views over the city and environs,” Shundi said. “The complete Shundi Customs development project also includes the refurbishment, recladding, conversion and seismic strengthening of the 12-storey office building on the corner of Fort Street and Customs Street East. This will become the boutique San He Yuan Hotel that provide integrated service to the residents as well. Work on the 4.5-star hotel will start in August this year and should be completed in tandem with Seascape Apartments in 2021.

“At the same time, the heritage Britomart Hotel – a public house dating from 1876 – on the corner of Gore Street and Customs Street East will be refurbished and renovated for commercial use. The development plan for this building is in the final stages of being finalised,” Shundi said. Marketing Seascape apartments will begin before the end of this year but the sales process won’t start until half-way through construction “to demonstrate a higher level of fit-out quality and provide more confidence to purchasers than selling off plans”, Shundi said. Shundi Customs says it is “a New Zealand based company backed by Shanghai Shenshun Investment, an established property developer from Shanghai. Shanghai Shenshun Investment has developed the boutique San He Yuan Hotel in Shanghai, as well as several high-rise office buildings, luxury villas and residential apartments”.

Source:

  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald
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Apartments for Auckland

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By 2017 more than half of all new homes built in Auckland will be part of apartment blocks or terraced homes.

According to architecture and research company RCG’s latest publication, Constructive Thinking, this shows Aucklanders may be warming up to the idea of attached housing.

“Based on building consent data and our own forecasts, 53 per cent of the new homes built in Auckland will be attached by 2017. This is a considerable shift from the average of the last 20 years, which has been closer to 35 per cent.”

The increase in attached homes fits with trends in comparable Australian cities, RCG said.

“Demand for medium density living is booming here. In Australia’s three largest
cities at least 60 per cent of new homes are attached.”

Rising house prices, an aging population, shrinking household sizes and record migration levels are citied as key drivers behind the trend.

RCG economist and associate director John Polkinghorne said attached housing is an attractive option for many people.

“Auckland’s population continues to grow rapidly, and for many people, a well
located and affordable apartment or terraced home is becoming a really attractive
option, compared to a standalone house on the city fringe,” Polkinghorne said.

RCG associate director of research John Polkinghorne.

In findings released this month, Barfoot & Thompson surveyed 500 Aucklanders aged 18 to 34 who were yet to own property.

Around 70 per cent of would-be homeowners are still aiming for a standalone Auckland house, with just 9 per cent willing to consider an apartment, it found.

Auckland CBD, Stonefields, Albany, the Western CBD and the Southern CBD are the most effected areas by increased density.

Source:

  • Aimee Shaw
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Getty Images

Luxury apartments for Christchurch

getimage (15)Christchurch’s tallest post-quake apartment complex is about to take shape opposite Cranmer Square. To be called West Kilmore Precinct, a $40 million plus complex will be erected 11 storeys tall with apartments priced between $450,000 and at least $1.2 million. The site is the corner of Kilmore St and Cranmer Square where Ernst and Young House stood before the quakes.

Christchurch property developer Grant MacKinnon is behind the project. His previous projects include the now-demolished Gallery Apartments in Gloucester St. MacKinnon has an investor he does not wish to name, but confirmed it was a local now living overseas. Although building height restrictions in the area were lowered to 11 metres in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, MacKinnon has existing use rights to build more than twice as high.

West Kilmore Precinct will consist of four buildings with different heights. Stage one will have 15 one and two bedroom apartments priced from $450,000 to $950,000, and is due to be finished in winter. Stage two will be two-connected buildings finished in mid-2017. They will be 11-storeys high with 35 apartments of up to three bedrooms and priced from $500,000 to $1.2 million. The third stage had not been finalised but would have six ‘‘higher end’’ apartments.

getimage (16)The complex will be full height facing north, with roof heights stepped down towards the south. MacKinnon bought the property in 2012 with the apartment plan in mind. He believes it is one of the best sites in the city, with views over both Cranmer Square and Hagley Park. About 20 of the apartments are pre-sold or under option. However he described the highend apartment market in the central city as difficult. ‘‘It’s a hard market to work in. Lots of people are looking and some are buying, but they’re careful”. ‘‘But we are appealing to some people. It’s a small number and there is still some nervousness about coming back into the central city but that’s rapidly falling away.’’

MacKinnon said he was pleased to see other apartment developments in the area. These include developer New-Urban Group’s Chinese-backed low-rise 30-apartment plan for the old Cranmer Courts site across the road, and the eight-storey Verve Precinct apartments going up to replace The Est@blishment on Peterborough St. ‘‘It’s encouraging that other people are doing it as well, as long as they do it right,’’ MacKinnon said.

Other apartment developments have failed to get traction, including the Miro complex planned for Colombo St and the Crown-run Breathe urban village project opposite Latimer Square. Real estate agent Mark O’Loughlin of Harcourts, who is marketing West Kilmore and specialises in central city apartment developments, said demand was coming from younger owners or investors wanting ‘‘affordable’’ apartments, and ‘‘younger baby boomers’’ looking for a lifestyle.

There was very little demand for family apartments in the central city, he said. O’Loughlin said there seemed to be a recent groundswell of buyers looking at inner city apartments, and he had sold more in the past six months than at any time since the quakes.

Source:

  • The Press
  • Liz McDonald

Canterbury construction $4 billion and rising

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Metro Sports Facility

Construction spending in Christchurch has hit more than $4 billion thanks to large builds like the planned new Metro Sports Facility.

A million dollars is being spent on construction in Canterbury every two hours – and spending is still rising.

While residential building work has decreased for the first time in three years, commercial and public construction is ramping up, according to Statistics New Zealand.

More than $4.3 billion has been spent on building work in the region in the past year. The dollars going into non-residential construction have jumped 14.6  per cent in the last quarter, after increasing steadily over the past year as the rebuild ramps up.

Neil Kelly, building figures manager for Statistics New Zealand, said while many houses had already been replaced or repaired, commercial construction was still gathering speed.

“You only have to count the cranes. There’s a lot of big stuff going on and those big projects are boosting the numbers.”

Its figures translated to $83 million a week going into Canterbury’s construction industry, or nearly $12m a day.

They came from  its work in place survey, which measures the value of new residential and non-residential building, as well as alterations big enough to need consent. It does not include internal refurbishments or minor renovations, or non-building construction such as roads and other infrastructure.

Leighs Construction managing director Anthony Leighs said the commercial market was the busiest it had been in the post-quake environment.

“What we’re seeing in there’s probably the highest level of activity in the market at the moment than there’s ever been… from the total number of buildings being built across the city.”

Leighs believed the momentum would “remain very solid” for two to three more years.

The company’s “top of the pops projects” at the moment were “massive”, including the BNZ and ANZ centres, and the Burwood Hospital rebuild.

Hawkins Construction South Island regional manager Steve Taw agreed, saying the rebuild was “likely to continue at this current rate for at least another 12 months”.

He said the projects the company were working on were likely to be adding to the “ever increasing spend in the Christchurch commercial construction market”, but it was planned and not unexpected.

“It is pleasing to see confidence in our central city increasing with a number of projects in full swing.”

Ian Smith, head of project management company Building Intelligence Group in Christchurch, said while the central city skyline was full of private developers’ cranes, internal work on those buildings and the public sector spend was yet to come.

Rather than peaking , the rebuild would plateau as big projects such as they city’s new central library, Metro sports centre and convention centre got underway.

“There’s going to be quite a lot of money spent on all those buildings.”

Smith said while there were “hot spots” in construction such as the need for structural steel, the market would supply enough materials and labour in most areas.

“By and large the market has responded so far, and met demand.”

Source:

  • The Press

5 years since Christchurch changed

getimage (5)Five years ago today, 436,000 lives in Canterbury changed.

We did not know by how much or when we might return to normal, but we can agree that the upheaval started with a 7.1-magnitude earthquake 40 kilometers west of Christchurch just after 4.30 am on September 4, 2010.

The devastating aftershock that struck the city nearly six months later changed Canterbury on a much larger scale, but September was the start.

How do you measure and define the recovery? Dollars spent? Time elapsed? There is no right answer.

In truth, there are 436,000 different recoveries happening at once – one for every resident of Christchurch city and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.

No two versions of recovery are the same.

We have each taken stock of the process countless times and probably arrived at different conclusions for how the recovery is faring.

In the interests of providing the fullest answer possible, the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (CECC) asked a cross-section of key players in the rebuild to report their progress by a handful of measures, including project size, completion date and value. Dozens responded.

This year, perhaps for the first time, that snapshot hints at conclusion. The Earthquake Commission has completed 97 per cent of its 69,081 building repairs and 80 per cent of 150,735 land claims. More than 80 per cent of all quake insurance claims are settled, according to the Insurance Council of New Zealand. The Stronger Canterbury Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt) is 76 per cent through it $2.2 billion job of repairing the city’s roads and pipes. Almost all of the work in the central city (96 per cent) is finished.

The CECC asked respondents when they expected to finish their work. Some major projects, including the central city bus interchange and the ‘‘Deloitte’’ building on Cambridge Tce, are already finished. Next year looms as a big leap forward with a cluster of retail developments – the BNZ Centre, the ANZ Centre on the old Triangle Centre site, the Crossing and the Terrace – all scheduled for completion.

‘‘I would think by the end of next year, October 2016, when the heart of that central city retail offering is up and operational . . . you’re going to see a major shift,’’ CECC chief executive Peter Townsend said. ‘‘You’re going to see people coming back into the central city in ways that we haven’t seen for five years.’’

A Cera report from July estimated the rebuild – measured as progress in residential, nonresidential and civil construction – was 41 per cent complete. Of the three categories, only residential construction spending was trending down. The other two were steady or climbing. The peak for all construction in the city (including business-as-usual building) is shaping as the last quarter of 2016, when Cera estimates $1.3b will be spent.

The idea the rebuild was already peaking was ‘‘fallacious’’, Townsend said. He puts progress at somewhere between 35 and 40 per cent. The decline, when it did come, would be gradual. ‘‘We’re not going to fall off a cliff. The Government’s assessment of the end of this earthquake recovery phase is 2026. We’re going to taper off.’’

In construction terms, Cera estimated that would translate to a decline from the late 2016 spending peak to about $500m in the final quarter of 2021. By then, Christchurch will have almost spent all of the $40b recovery bill.

‘‘That [spending] has an impact on the future of Christchurch that I don’t think people have factored in,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘I’ve often been challenged by people saying ‘We’re only replacing what we’ve lost.’ No we’re not. It’s all new. We are recreating a city.

‘‘I don’t know anywhere in the world where $40b has been tipped into a population of 360,000 people to recreate a city. It’s unique.’’

The bulk of the money will filter through the economy via insurance payouts (according to the Insurance Council, commercial and residential quake claims are about 88 per cent and 84 per cent settled respectively) but some will arrive through big ticket developments. The University of Canterbury will spend $1.2b on its redevelopment by 2022, including new engineering ($145m) and science ($216m) facilities due by 2016 and 2017. The Ministry of Education’s $1.1b Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme includes the rebuild of 115 schools. The $900m redevelopment of Lyttelton port – a mix of quake repairs and expansion – will continue until 2042.

As those time frames suggest, the rebuild was never going to be a five-year job. Charles Eadie, who led the rebuild of Santa Cruz city after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, told Fairfax Media the recovery reached a ‘‘turning point’’ six years after the quake and most work was completed after 10 years.

‘‘I think we’ll look back on this period of our lives and say . . . we were hopelessly optimistic when it came to time frames,’’ Townsend said. ‘‘We all thought we’d be over this in five years. No, we won’t.’’

The statement is truer of some things than others – Scirt prioritising central city infrastructure repairs over suburban ones, for example.

‘‘I don’t want us to get to 10 years and think that we’re in that kind of state we won’t be able to reflect very positively on our journey,’’ Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said.

The focus brought on the central city by the recovery blueprint and the magnitude of the task of repairing broken parts of eastern Christchurch posed that risk, she said.

Source:

The Press

A busy decade ahead!

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Waterview Project – Auckland

Around $110 billion will be spent by central and local government on infrastructure over the next 10 years – but more money will be needed from user-pays and other charges, Finance Minister Bill English says.

The Government has also announced it will develop national data standards for roads, water and buildings, which it hopes will avoid a “silo” approach to expensive new projects.

“Centres of excellence” will be established with people who can help government departments and councils with the analysis and presentation of data.

“Expensive and long-lived infrastructure assets won’t deliver the right results if planning occurs in silos,” Mr English said in a speech unveiling the 2015 National Infrastructure plan at the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure (NZCID) symposium in Christchurch this morning.

The plan contains 145 initiatives which are designed to help the country cope with ageing infrastructure, and increasing pressures from a growing population, much of which will occur north of Taupo.

NationalMegaProjectsAug20Mr English said there would need to be an increased focus on “non-asset solutions”, such as charging those who have a strong demand for the use of infrastructure.

“This isn’t a new idea. Taxes on fuel to pay for the National Land Transport Fund mean we already use demand management tools in roading.

“And all councils meter large water consumers. New technology will offer greater opportunities for managing demand for infrastructure assets over the next 30 years.”

Mr English said that such charges should not be used without considering benefits to improved infrastructure, such as increased productivity or well-being

“And charges for infrastructure use should never be used simply to raise revenue.”

A key focus of today’s plan is the need to renew ageing networks of existing infrastructure, Mr English said. That included schools, which have an average age of 42 years.

The Ministry of Education has recently surveyed all of the country’s state and state-integrated schools and found them to be in poorer condition than thought.

Damp, mouldy conditions at schools including Northland College and Western Springs College in Auckland have made headlines recently. Both those schools are scheduled for hugely-expensive upgrades.

“New Zealand’s population is ageing. The median age has increased from 32.8 years in 1996 to 36.9 years today, and is expected to reach 42.7 years in 2043,” Mr English said.

“This has implications for the types of services New Zealanders will want, the infrastructure required to deliver those services, and the available funding.

“Some of our regions will grow in size, while others will shrink. By 2045, the demographers expect another 1.2 million people to be living in New Zealand, with most of that increase expected to be north of Taupō.

“Those people will require housing, transport, electricity, water and telecommunications. They will also help to pay for it.”

Mr English also today released a pipeline of capital spending for central government departments, which he said showed the Government’s commitment to transparent dialogue with local government and industry.

When National came to power in 2008 discussions with councils and departments on infrastructure were often short-term in focus, Mr English said, but a smarter approach was needed to meet the significant challenges over the next 30 years.

Local Government NZ, which represents the country’s 78 local and regional authorities, last month made a number of proposals funding councils, including fuel levies, taxes on tourists, and collecting rates on Crown-owned land.

Those were dismissed by Local Government Minister Paula Bennett, who warned councils to look at their own spending and high wages rather than chasing the Crown or ratepayers for more funding.

LGNZ president Lawrence Yule, who has said local government is facing unprecedented economic and demographic change, welcomed today’s 30 year plan.

“While local and central government will not agree on everything, over the timeframe of this plan LGNZ will continue to drive strategic performance improvements across its infrastructure including the three waters, roading and transport, as well as a new partnership with central government on risk management of local assets,” Mr Yule wrote in a forward to the plan.

Today’s report notes that climate change is predicted to cause sea level rises of 30 centimetres by 2050, and that flooding is already New Zealand’s most frequent natural disaster at a cost of around $51 million each year.

Local authorities are already noting that the rising water table is hastening the degradation of pipes.

Source:

  • Nicholas Jones
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Nick Reed

Focus on apartments for Auckland

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The Merchant Quarter apartments in New Lynn

Nearly 6000 new apartments are set to be built across Auckland over the next three years, with most planned for suburban and city fringe areas rather than the CBD, new research reveals.

The new housing stock includes developments that are currently being marketed, have building consent or are under construction.

Thousands of other properties are still in the pre-planning stages or envisaged on surplus land being freed up for private developers by Auckland Council and the Crown.

The new apartment stock will help address a drastic housing shortage that has seen house prices soar across the city by 20 per cent in the past year to a new record median of $749,000 last month, according to Real Estate Institute data.

apartmentCommercial real estate agency CBRE has released figures on the Auckland apartment market.

They show the city has 26,500 apartments in 393 buildings, 68 per cent of which are in the CBD.

Another 5723 apartments in 87 buildings are in the “active development pipeline” and set to be completed by late 2018. This represents a 20 per cent increase in apartment stock – to 32,000 apartments in 480 buildings.

While apartments have traditionally been built mainly in the CBD, the number constructed in fringe suburbs and suburban areas is forecast to reach an all-time high next year, with 1170 units due for completion in fringe areas, 960 in suburban zones and 790 in the CBD.

The new housing is planned right across the city, from Orewa to Pukekohe, and Beachlands to Henderson.

CBRE senior managing director Brent McGregor said 530 apartments in 12 buildings had already been completed this year, and a further 1486 added to the pipeline – more than half of them outside the CBD.

“What this research shows us is that the time of the fringe city and suburban apartment has come. Developers are responding to demand from people looking for affordable and attractive places to live, and apartment living is on the list all over the city.” Additional developments still in pre-planning stages included CBD towers, under-utilised fringe sites, building conversions, wider estate developments and new low-rise buildings in greenfield suburban areas.

Real Estate Institute chief executive Colleen Milne said affordability and supply were the main catalysts for Auckland’s housing problems.

“Apartments make excellent use of the land and often provide extra facilities, off street parking and location.”

The research follows warnings that an over-supply of low-quality apartments could send prices plummeting.

Source:

  • Lane Nichols
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Doug Sherring
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