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”.


  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald

Plans for NZ’s tallest skyscraper

Plans for New Zealand’s tallest skyscraper, to rise in the heart of Auckland, have been unveiled today.

A $350 million 52-level 209m skyscraper has been announced for a CBD site left vacant since the 1980s when Chase Corporation demolished the Royal International Hotel.

Chinese developer New Development Group is to build the tower, known now as NDG Auckland Centre, on the site of a carpark and bungy jump bounded by Elliot St, Albert St and Victoria St.


Auckland Council has granted resource consent for the giant which will only be dwarfed by the 328 m Sky Tower. A building consent is still pending.

Mayor Len Brown announced details of the tower to the Herald this morning, saying it would be a huge transformation for the city.

“Alongside the SkyTower, this will be a world class development for Auckland that will create hundreds of new jobs, energise the CBD and boost Auckland’s GDP, through a more than $350 million investment by NDG,” Brown said.

“It’s also an example of the major commercial opportunities created by the City Rail Link project. To date the private sector has confirmed more than a billion dollars of new investments along the proposed route, including Precinct Properties’ downtown retail and office development ($300m+) the NZ International Convention Centre ($400m+) and Elliott Towers ($350m+),” he said.

It’s not the first time big plans have been announced for the site though, which has been sitting empty since 1987.

Less than a month before that year’s stock market crash, a newly formed property firm, Acadia Corp, sent a wrecking ball into the Royal International Hotel.

The hotel was the flagship of beer giant Dominion Breweries. Its interior was decorated by Lady Kelliher, wife of DB managing director Sir Henry Kelliher, and it hosted the Beatles in 1964.

Acadia planned a $120 million, 32-storey office tower on the site – bordered by Elliott, Victoria and Albert Sts – due to open in 1990.

But after the crash, the site was turned over to carparks as a succession of developers floated and then abandoned their dreams.

Acadia was taken over by Sir Ron Brierley’s BIL, which sold the site to Colin Reynolds’ Chase Corporation.

Chase wanted to install its retail subsidiary Farmers Trading Co on the ground floor. Above that it planned an office tower connected to Chase’s Finance Centre by a sky-bridge across Victoria St. It was to be New Zealand’s version of London’s CanaryWharf.

Just a few months after Chase revealed its plans, the Government placed the firm’s property arm under statutory management, a move that marked the start of its spectacular demise.

After Chase, the site fell into the hands of an Indonesian firm before it was bought by the present owner – Korea’s DaeJu – for $25.5 million in 2003.

DaeJu’s planned a 67-storey, $450 million retail and apartment complex known as the Elliott Tower.

In a 2006 story privately owned DaeJu, which has interests as diverse as finance, shipbuilding, media, and property, had applied for resource consents to build its skyscraper.

The story said it “had yet to decide how it will pay for the development, who will build it and when work will start. But it insists the project will go ahead.”

DaeJu was aiming at the top end of the market. The cheapest apartment of that planned building was to have been about $320,000 and the most expensive tipped to go for as much as $7 million.

That tower was designed by Auckland architect Gordon Moller, who also designed the Sky Tower.

“You get views on both sides, instead of having dark rooms at the back of the apartment and no view,” said Moller at the time. “On the west will be the upper harbour view and the afternoon sun and on the east the prospect out to Rangitoto.


  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald
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