2 late-1980s commercial buildings just down from the Karangahape Rd ridge are gaining new life as residential conversions at the hands of father & son developers Mike & David Mahoney, of Tawera Group Ltd, and their family support team.
Annabel Mahoney does marketing, older sister Josephine Love does interior design (Josephine Design Ltd) and her husband, John, is chief financial officer.
Reconstruction has started on the hexagonal 15 Hopetoun, the former Baycorp House which will be converted into 91 apartments, and the next Mahoney development, 8 Hereford, was launched to buyers on Thursday night.
Although the configuration for 8 Hereford was for 119 apartments, one buyer has taken the whole “front” on the top floor – with views to the cbd, harbour bridge and over Freemans Bay – 3 apartments to be combined into a 400m² interior with a 75m² deck.
15 Hopetoun, the first luxury apartment project in Auckland since 2007, secured 50 sales on opening night. Bayleys Real Estate chairman John Bayley said at the 8 Hereford opening: “Michael Mahoney has an uncanny ability. Not many people can pick the market and pick the sites.”
David Mahoney said in an interview during the week that, as they finished their conversion of the former Beca office building at 132 Vincent St, they saw the need for bigger floorplates and thought they had the answer at 15 Hopetoun.
“Unfortunately they weren’t big enough. We offered 104m², they wanted 200m² – the purchasers come from really big homes. Originally we thought 15 Hopetoun was going to be an easier project because it was smaller, but we kept going outside the existing floorplate for size.”
The floorplates are hexagonal, but the new design by Clark Brown Architects incorporates decks pushing further out – “something with more character & bulk,” David Mahoney said.
“Because of the new lift technology, most of the gear is in the shaft so we’re creating 3 extra levels, taking it from 9 levels to 12, but only going 1m higher.
“The bigger apartments were very popular and a few buyers have purchased more than one to get size – the largest one is 280m². The same has happened at 8 Hereford. One purchaser has bought the whole front on the top floor – 3 apartments of 145m², 125m² & 130m² on the design, to be turned into one of 400m² plus 75m² of deck.”
15 Hopetoun & its neighbour, No 9, were developed by Unity Group (Mark Wyborn & David Muller) in the 1980s as a contrasting pair rather than as identical twins. No 9 Hopetoun is a mix of apartments & commercial.
Across Hereford St, Hong Kong newspaper magnate Sally Aw, initially in partnership with local developer Baker Corp Group Ltd (John Baker), built their office tower in the same era, looking across to the cbd & harbour, with a line of shops & offices in the heritage Plaza building on Karangahape Rd. Western Park, Auckland Girls’ Grammar School and the motorway prevent any further development in front of them.
8 apartments of 63-140m² remain unsold at 15 Hopetoun. 8 Hereford will be a mixed building – 12 apartment levels above 4 floors of parking & 2 of office.
False ceilings will be taken out to raise ceiling heights to 2.7m and new glazing, plumbing, electrics & lifts will be installed, but David Mahoney said the conversion would still be much faster than a new-build: “We hope to start construction early next year and finish in mid-2016. To build from new, we’d be here 3 years. One of the real benefits I’ve found is the ability to take a purchaser around and show them the view from the physical space they will occupy.”
Unlike many apartment buildings, the focus here is on owner-occupiers: “You can’t make it work on a yield basis, they’re too big. It’ll wash its face, but capital gain is the main driver. If you’re looking for a yield, there’s other product that will do it better.
“We’re calling them apartments – ideally I’d like to see them as homes. On the fifth floor there will be a pool and a 110m² gym, a decent space rather than something poky. On the level above, there will be a theatre & library because a lot of the buyers are downsizing. A few apartments do have theatre rooms, but not all of them.
“We’ll have a concierge plus a live-in manager. I really want to take it to the next level. No one’s really done that in terms of service – for security, the personal touch, to be able to be welcomed home by your first name, really just to make life easier. I watch a lot of movies and I like that New York sort of thing, just going that extra mile.”
Sales exceeded $70 million before launch night, out of $140 million of apartments & parking spaces, which are being offered separately: “They’re an extra, not everyone wants one. We’ve got the ability to give at least 2/apartment, 478 in total at $50,000 each. The commercial premises will soak up quite a few, but I feel there will always be a surplus.”
Although the large decks might change calculations, Mr Mahoney said pricing based on internal areas ranged from the mid-$7000s/m² up to $13,000/m².
Image above: David Mahoney at 8 Hereford, with the cbd in the background.