Tag Archives | Willis Bond

Catalina Bay development unveiled

Willis Bond & Co Ltd unveiled its ideas yesterday for Catalina Bay, formerly known as The Landing, at Hobsonville Point.

Through the frame of the old Sunderland hangar – stripped to remove asbestos – to the Catalina workshops where the farmers’ market is based and new offices will be created.

The project takes in the former Catalina flying boat workshops beside the ferry terminal where the Hobsonville farmers’ market has been based, the Sunderland flying boat hangar (which has been stripped down to its framing) and land beside the hangar where apartments will be built.

Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said Catalina Bay would be a new gateway to the west from the water and would improve the prospect of increasing ferry frequency.

The workshops will be transformed for a variety of uses.

It will accommodate a variety of uses, including a micro-brewery, cafés & restaurants, restored character offices as well as the farmers market. Mr McGuinness said some of the office spaces would be idea for cosharing.

60-80 high quality freehold apartments are envisaged in the development beside the hangar, which Mr McGuinness expects will be marketed late this year.

The waterfront site was a key component of the former Hobsonville Royal NZ Air Force base, which served the Pacific in wartime with its flying boats, and was also an early site for TEAL (Tasman Empire Airways Ltd), forerunner of Air NZ.

Almost the whole air force base has been turned over to housing, managed by the Government-owned Hobsonville Land Co Ltd, with individual developers in charge of subdivisions within it.

Willis Bond has been developing the Sunderland precinct, comprising 120 new homes & 11 refurbished former Air Force homes from the 1930s.

The Hobsonville Land Co will be one of the first tenants to occupy the refurbished Catalina Bay office space, late this year.

Attribution: Presentation, company release.

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Willis Bond to develop The Landing at Hobsonville Point

Willis Bond & Co Ltd is to develop the 1.8ha former flying boat base & prime waterfront community hub, The Landing, at Hobsonville Point.

The Government-owned Hobsonville Land Co Ltd said today it had entered an agreement to sell The Landing to Willis Bond & Co Ltd for development, subject to due diligence & detailed design.

Hobsonville Land chief executive Chris Aiken said the company expected the agreement to become unconditional in time for redevelopment to start in 2016, and had begun preparatory work on the heritage buildings & site preparation.

Subject to concluding the agreement, redevelopment of The Landing was expected to begin around the middle of 2016 and would be a 3-5-year project.

The waterfront precinct will contain restaurants & cafes as well as retail, niche office space & homes.

Willis Bond is developing the Sunderland residential area precinct near the Catalina Café at Hobsonville Point and has 2 apartment developments underway in the Wynyard Quarter. It also has extensive restoration experience in Wellington, including the NZX Centre, Free Ambulance Building & Xero House.

The Landing faces north and is home to a new ferry wharf, with ferry services connecting to downtown Auckland, and a weekly farmers’ market.

Mr Aiken said the seaplane hangar & key historic buildings would remain as part of the new development.

He said the market had become a key feature of the site and both Willis Bond & Hobsonville Land were committed to seeing this develop further. There was a contractual commitment to retain it for a minimum of 3 years and designers were considering the market’s long-term future on The Landing

Willis Bond has retained Cheshire Architects, which has played a leading role in the redevelopment of Britomart, to develop plans for The Landing.

Attribution: Company release.

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Willis Bond gets consent for Takapuna apartments

Willis Bond & Co Ltd (Mark McGuinness) has secured resource consent for the first new apartment development in the centre of Takapuna since 2009 – Eight Lake Pupuke Drive.

The development will comprise 2 private apartment buildings containing 54 units at Eight Lake Pupuke Drive and a 16-unit, 4-storey apartment building on Killarney St for Housing NZ Corp.

Willis Bond project director Roger Twose said yesterday the 2 4-storey buildings at Eight Lake Pupuke Drive would be contemporary & architecturally designed with good natural light & carefully designed layouts. He expects construction to begin in the first half of 2016.

Willis Bond recently won the supreme award at the 2015 Property Council awards for the Clyde Quay Wharf apartments in Wellington. In Auckland, the company’s projects include Wynyard Central & 132 Halsey in the Wynyard Quarter, and Sunderland at Hobsonville Point.

Most of the apartment designs are 2 bedrooms, with a smaller number of one- & 3-bedroom homes.  They will range in size from 80-145m².

Willis Bond is taking registrations of interest for the Eight Lake Pupuke Drive apartments at willisbond.co.nz/register.

Attribution: Company release.

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Blessing gets $1 billion of the new Wynyard under way

Blessings of construction sites run counter to the dominant forces in a secular society, and the blessing of reclaimed land even more so, you might think.

But in Maoridom the connections with the past, and with place, are important. And so, at dawn this morning, Ngati Whatua o Orakei cultural leaders performed a task which, for modern Auckland, may have more significance than most would suppose.

There were no earthworks on the Wynyard Central site this morning, but there was that connection to the past & the place. Taiaha Hawke, cultural advisor to the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust, told the small gathering of project executives & council people: “Though it’s reclaimed, we still need to acknowledge the spirits from before you came here.

“Part of your role this morning is to keep us grounded, if you like. It’s also about your aspirations for the site. We know it’s not all about money. You have a greater purpose than making money – growing of the city, leaving your mark on the city after we’re all gone.”

Willis Bond & Co Ltd will develop part of the land for apartments and some retail & hospitality outlets, Precinct Properties NZ Ltd will develop its Innovation Precinct, and Fu Wah International Group will develop a hotel, all with council leasehold factored into long-term pricing.

John Dalzell, interim chief executive of the new council-owned Panuku Development Auckland said Precinct would start work in a fortnight and the transformation would be well under way by Christmas.

He spoke of partnerships with iwi and with development partners: “Partnerships put us in a place we couldn’t have achieved by ourselves.”

Precinct will develop 48,000m² of space in 5 office buildings, which will provide work for over 3000 people, starting with development inside the former Southern Spars mast-stepping warehouse.

Matt Maihi.

Matt Maihi.

Orakei marae manager Matt Maihi was an oil company truck driver then warehouseman in the 1970s and recounted some of the precinct’s history as he experienced it: “In the mid-70s there were rumours the oil tanks were going to go [from what is now the Wynyard Quarter]. We said no, the oil industry will never go away. They drilled a pipeline from Whangarei to Wiri. We said that will never happen. …. Changes were made to break up the unions and now you have contract drivers. We said that will never happen.

“Tomorrow there’s always a change, and from my point of view it’s been for the benefit of many of us.”

On the council-owned Wynyard Quarter sites, that change will amount to about $1 billion of development about to start. The sites spread across a block bordered by Beaumont, Pakenham St West, Halsey & Madden Sts.

Willis Bond has presold over half the first tranche of its apartments and works are expected to start next month on 113 homes on the site bordered by Daldy & Pakenham St West, and in November on 51 apartments at 132 Halsey St.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse said the day marked the changing waterfront landscape & a strategic use of publicly owned land assets: “It’s important we take the time to mark the passing of the land from its former industrial use to the location for a new residential & working community as it also recognises the significance of the historical links of the waterfront to mana whenua in Tamaki Makaurau.

“Leveraging the use of these important council landholdings is important as it delivers significant financial returns and optimises the use of this prime waterfront land in a way that will offer long-term economic benefits for the city centre & the region.”

Interim Chief Executive of Panuku Development Auckland John Dalzell says after opening up the western edge of Auckland’s waterfront in 2011, with more public spaces, restaurants and bars, the central precinct of Wynyard Quarter will be an important next step.

“What we’re talking about here is setting an exemplar for medium-density development for the region. Building designs will inspire and new behaviours will be encouraged through approaches to recycling, energy & water conservation & generation, walking & cycling amenities, carparking & transport.

“It won’t just be tenants or homeowners who are set to benefit from the development either as – with 11,000 m² of new laneways & open spaces, including nearly 1300m² of retail space – visitors to the Wynyard Quarter will be able to experience a whole new part of the city.”

Image at top: Taiaha Hawke leads this morning’s blessing.

Link: Animation capturing construction stages over the next 5 years

Earlier stories:
9 September 2015: Waterfront Park Hyatt gets consent
18 May 2015: Auckland’s waterfront – aiming to be the international exemplar
6 July 2014: Aiming up while others aim low: McGuinness style will lift Wynyard precinct

Attribution: Blessing, Panuku Development release.

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“Mad endeavour” wins top property award

Mark McGuinness, head of the Property Council’s supreme award winner, Willis Bond & Co Ltd, thanked Waterfront Wellington last night “for allowing us to embark on this mad endeavour”.

Willis Bond developed 76 high-spec apartments on the former Overseas Passenger Terminal as the main feature of a $180 million project which included retail, office & civic spaces at wharf level.

Mark McGuinness, at the Wynyard Quarter.

Mark McGuinness, at the Wynyard Quarter.

The project took 10 years “from woe to go” and construction took 2 years. Mr McGuinness likened the approach to a village working together: “Our village was our team. We had over 1000 people involved in this project. They didn’t do it for the money, they did it because it was meaningful.”

On a night for celebrating excellence, Mr McGuinness said people would look back at their effort and ask: “Who did that?”

Clyde Quay was finished last year and Willis Bond has since focused more of its attention on Auckland, where it has the Sunderland subdivision at Hobsonville Point and the Wynyard Central project in the waterfront Wynyard Quarter.

The Property Council had 92 nominations in 10 categories for its 2015 awards, handed out at Vector Arena before an audience of 1350 influencers on the property sector.

15 Stout St, Wellington.

15 Stout St, Wellington.

Clyde Quay won the multi-unit residential award. Also in Wellington, Argosy Property Ltd – headed by chief executive Peter Mence, the Property Council’s new national president – was best in the green building category and achieved excellence in the office and heritage & adaptive reuses categories for the resurrection of the former Defence Ministry office building at 15 Stout St, which had been vacant for 5 years. It’s now the head office of the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Building, Environment & Housing Minister Nick Smith, speaking at last night’s function, criticised the caution of having so much red tape and “clipboard Charlies” who administered it, and said the special housing areas introduced through the government-council accords were an effective way to bypass that thinking.

Dr Smith said the focus on achieving the bare minimum for consent also “misses the point of being people of excellence”. He expects to introduce the next round of Resource Management Act reforms to Parliament next month.

Award winners, their owners & builders:

Rider Levett Bucknall supreme award:

Clyde Quay Wharf, Wellington

Education & arts, sponsor Coffey:

Best in category: The Blyth Performing Arts Centre, Havelock North, Iona College, Mackersey Construction Ltd

Excellence: Wintec Engineering & Trades Training Facility, Hamilton, Wintec, Gibson O’Connor Ltd
Auckland University Newmarket campus, Engineering School, Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket, Auckland University, Hawkins Construction Ltd & Scarbro Construction Ltd
Massey University Wellington campus, Public Health School, Massey University, Arrow International (NZ) Ltd
Te Pataka Korero o Te Hau Kapua – Devonport Library, Auckland Council, Naylor Love Construction Ltd
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, Project Blue Sky, stage 1, Christchurch, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, Leighs Construction Ltd

Merit: St Peter’s Junior School, Cambridge, St Peter’s School, Livingstone Building NZ Ltd
Ormiston Primary School, Ormiston, Education Ministry, Arrow International (NZ) Ltd
Kahurangi School, Wellington, Education Ministry, Maycroft Construction Ltd
Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch, Isaac Theatre Royal Charitable Trust, Naylor Love Construction Ltd
Hobsonville Point Secondary School, Education Ministry, Hawkins Construction Ltd
Fantails Childcare, Millwater, Hibiscus Coast, Fantails Silverdale Ltd, Silverdale ComDev Ltd

Green building, sponsor Resene:

Best in category: 15 Stout St, Wellington, Argosy Property Ltd, vendor & developer Fifteen Stout Ltd (Kate & Maurice Clark), McKee-Fehl Constructors Ltd

Merit: Te Pataka Korero o Te Hau Kapua – Devonport Library, Auckland Council, Naylor Love Construction Ltd
Watercare House, 73 Remuera Rd, Newmarket, owner Viewmount Orchards Ltd, developer & builder Mansons TCLM Ltd
Ricoh head office, 200 Victoria St West (ex-Mainzeal head office), VQ Holdings Ltd, Russell Property Group Ltd

Heritage & adaptive reuses, sponsor Hawkins Construction:

Best in category: Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch, Isaac Theatre Royal Charitable Trust, Naylor Love Construction Ltd

Excellence: Knox Church, Christchurch, Knox Presbyterian Church Property Trustees, Higgs Construction Ltd
15 Stout St, Wellington, Argosy Property Ltd, vendor & developer Fifteen Stout Ltd (Kate & Maurice Clark), McKee-Fehl Constructors Ltd

Merit: Auckland University Newmarket campus, Engineering School, Khyber Pass Rd, Newmarket, Auckland University, Hawkins Construction Ltd & Scarbro Construction Ltd

Seddon Building, Lone Star, Masterton, Lands Trust Masterton, Rigg-Zschokke Ltd
Lopdell precinct redevelopment, Lopdell House & Te Uru Gallery, Titirangi, Auckland Council, NZ Strong Ltd
BATS Theatre, Wellington, Sir Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh, Peter Camp Builders Ltd (now PCB NZ Ltd)

Industrial, sponsor myTrends:

Best in category: Metroglass building, Highbrook, Goodman Property Trust

Merit: DHL supply chain solutions, Auckland International Airport Ltd, Federal Pacific Ltd

Multi-unit residential, sponsor Arrow International:

Best in category: Clyde Quay Wharf, Wellington, Clyde Quay Wharf Redevelopments LP, developer & project manager Willis Bond & Co Ltd, builder LT McGuinness Ltd

Excellence: Stavely Building Apartments, Dunedin, Purvis Investments Ltd, Arrow International (NZ) Ltd

Merit: The Wigan, Wellington, Taranaki Land Ltd, Arrow International (NZ) Ltd
Remuera Rise retirement village, Life Care Residences Ltd, developer Remuera Rise Ltd, builder Dominion Constructors Ltd
Merchant Quarter, New Lynn, Tasman Cook Ltd, Kalmar Construction Ltd

Office, sponsor Hays Commercial:

Best in category: Watercare House, 73 Remuera Rd, Newmarket, owner Viewmount Orchards Ltd, developer & builder Mansons TCLM Ltd

Excellence: 15 Stout St, Wellington, Argosy Property Ltd, vendor & developer Fifteen Stout Ltd (Kate & Maurice Clark), McKee-Fehl Constructors Ltd
Lot 3, 130 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Adhurji Valabh Trust, Canam Construction Ltd

Merit: 151 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch, Westwood Ltd, John McMillan Building Services Ltd
Anderson Lloyd House, Christchurch, Amherst Properties Ltd, Ganellen Construction Ltd
Ricoh head office, 200 Victoria St West (ex-Mainzeal head office), VQ Holdings Ltd, Russell Property Group Ltd
Stranges & Glendenning Hill Buildings, Christchurch, Shaun Stockman and Dean & Grant Marshall, KPI Rothschild Property Group Ltd

Retail, sponsor RCG:

Best in category: Takanini Village retail centre, stage 1, Tonea Investments (NZ) Ltd, Dominion Constructors Ltd

Merit: Upper Queen St development, Richmond, Nelson, Queen Street Industries Ltd, Gibbons Construction Ltd
Millwater Central, Hibiscus Coast, Broadway Developments 1986 Ltd, MacRennie Commercial Construction Ltd & Broadway Developments
45 Queen St podium redevelopment, Auckland, PSPIB Waiheke Inc (Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board), vendor, developer & property manager AMP Capital Investors (NZ) Ltd

Special purpose, sponsor Warren & Mahoney:

Best in category: Lopdell precinct, Titirangi, Auckland Council, NZ Strong Ltd

Excellence: Kathleen Kilgour Centre, Tauranga, Kathleen Kilgour Centre LP, The Fletcher Construction Co Ltd
Christchurch eye surgery, Christchurch, ISight Properties Ltd, Leighs Construction Ltd

Merit: Whakatane Hospital, Bay of Plenty District Health Board, The Fletcher Construction Co Ltd
RNZAF Base Ohakea, air movements terminal, Defence Force, Ebert Construction Ltd
Masterton courthouse, Corrections Department, Holmes Construction Ltd
Auckland South corrections facility, Wiri, Corrections Department, The Fletcher Construction Co Ltd

Tourism & leisure, sponsor Holmes Consulting Group:

Best in category: Avantidrome: Home of Cycling, Cambridge, Home of Cycling Trust, Livingstone Building NZ Ltd

Merit: Hadlee Pavilion & Hagley Oval redevelopment, Christchurch, Canterbury Cricket Trust & Christchurch City Council, Southbase Construction Ltd
BATS Theatre, Wellington, Sir Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh, Peter Camp Builders Ltd (now PCB NZ Ltd)

Urban land developments, sponsor Natural Habitats:

Merit: Long Bay, stage 1, Long Bay Communities Ltd (Todd Land Holdings Ltd), Dempsey Wood Civil Construction Ltd
The Landing, Auckland Airport, owner & developer Auckland International Airport Ltd

Attribution: Awards function.

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Second stage of Sunderland released

Sunderland at Hobsonville Point developer Willis Bond & Co Ltd has released 28 more homes for purchase off the plans, 3 months after the first release of 24 homes.

The Sunderland precinct of Hobsonville Point covers 7.4ha and has been designed to take 211 homes. 22 in the second stage are freestanding and the other 6 will be townhouses.

Wayne Silver.

Wayne Silver.

Project director Wayne Silver said 4 were already under contract.

Mr Silver said purchasers so far were a mix of young couples, downsizers & families. The buyers of the first release are expected to move into their new homes from September.

He said a range of factors was behind the strong demand: “They feature high quality design from Studio Pacific Architecture, and Haydn & Rollett construction is a hugely respected builder. Our base level specification is also very high and includes architectural kitchens & bathrooms, as well as Homestar 6 initiatives such as thermal underfloor insulation and LED lighting throughout.”

Terraced homes have 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a single garage & car pad, and are priced from $835,000. Freestanding homes start at $1.05 million and have 3-4 bedrooms, 2 living spaces, 2 bathrooms plus separate toilet, and either single or double garage with single or double car pad.

The whole of Hobsonville Point is a masterplanned community covering 167ha, planned to accommodate 8000 residents & 2000 people working on completion.

Earlier story:
17 November 2014: Sunderland – another innovative step towards far better housing

Link: Willis Bond

Attribution: Company release.

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Sunderland – another innovative step towards far better housing

The Sunderland precinct at Hobsonville Point was made a special housing area in the second tranche under the Government-Auckland Council housing accord last December, got its first building consent in June and developer Willis & Bond Ltd will open its show home this weekend.

The company has 25 new homes to go on the market (behind the Catalina café, construction expected to be completed in mid-2015) and intends to complete all 211 in the Sunderland A precinct within 3 years, including transplanting & refurbishing 17 old Air Force homes with modern interiors.

That’s the speed part of the accord that Housing Minister Nick Smith was aiming for. But Hobsonville Point has already been markedly different in a number of ways – from its overall ownership, carefully managed oversight, introduction of the Axis series of innovative houses in March and close monitoring of constructed homes & owners’ reactions. Axis housing, while innovative, carries a maximum price tag of $485,000 and will comprise 15% of the development.

The Sunderland A precinct covers 5 development blocks on 7.4ha overlooking the upper reaches of the Waitemata Harbour. The whole of Hobsonville Point, on 167ha of former airbase land, was earmarked for residential subdivision in 2008, the first sod was turned in 2009, but the focus on rapid & quality development only began in 2012, when a quota for affordable housing with price limits was imposed.

Since then, 500 homes have been sold out of the total 3000 envisaged for the development, and 250 have been built in 2 precincts.

Willis Bond has brought in Studio Pacific Architecture to design a masterplan for the whole precinct – from services to roads, lanes connecting clusters of homes and the neighbourhood parks sprinkled among them, staggered streetscapes, the mix of natural materials and the layout of individual buildings.

Wayne Silver.

Wayne Silver.

Sunderland project director Wayne Silver said the precinct was the first in Auckland to aim for a minimum Homestar 6 rating for environmental & energy efficiency for all its new homes, and Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said the company intended to bring a standard of living & design to Hobsonville Point that the development hadn’t seen yet, despite the attention to innovation in earlier precincts.

The new houses will be a mix of terraces & standalone homes, featuring high-stud interiors (2.7m on the ground floor), polished concrete floors, cedar cladding, double-glazed windows designed not to cause condensation, thermally broken joinery, stone benchtops, soft-close doors & drawers: “It’s a level of specification far beyond what is considered industry standard,” Mr McGuinness said.

Standard terraced homes will have 3-4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a single garage, and a price tag starting at $822,000. Expensive? The showhome has 312m², flexibility allowing for a switch from bedrooms to study or living space, and at $822,000 would equate to $2635/m². That’s in an Auckland housing market where old houses are being snapped up for $1 million-plus for their land, the latest apartment developments are priced at $10-13,000/m² and better apartments from the last round of development are selling for about $6-7000/m².

7 of the first batch of homes will be in the Axis series, the compact, high quality design created by Government land-owning company Hobsonville Land Co Ltd.

Willis Bond is also developing a 600-apartment precinct in the Wynyard Quarter, on the downtown Auckland waterfront, with Studio Pacific as one of the architectural teams. Studio Pacific’s credentials include innovative designs in the Beaumont Quarter and at North on Lighter Quay.

“Sunderland is set up with a connected series of pocket parks & laneways, letting the kids play in the back yard where they’re immediately accessible and people can talk across them. But although you might have a terraced house, you still have your own front & back yards,” Studio Pacific’s Mr McDougall said.

“There will also be shared facilities which are bookable [an idea which was being mocked in media last week for the impracticality in old-style suburbia] – lawnmower, composting, planted vege gardens for many of the houses.

“We wanted to have a good size of landscaping which you can enjoy – but you don’t have to spend a good part of the weekend maintaining.”

Stephen McDougall.

Stephen McDougall.

Mr Silver said the conversation most New Zealanders had about their homes was about scale – “larger sections, land is better”. He gave the example of his own North Shore home as one with land, but not so much quality because of the way housing used to be done: “On the south side you need a humidifier. It’s really about the quality of the space.”

Mr McDougall said that kind of issue was resolved at Sunderland not by turning the houses on their sections but by angling spaces within the envelope to get more appropriate sunlight.

For Hobsonville Land Co chief executive Chris Aiken, these subtle features all help the whole project lift housing & subdivision standards, vital if Aucklanders are going to be convinced to change how they live: “For Auckland to do medium density, there will need to be exemplar projects.

“The fears around being in an apartment or a terraced house all fall away. That’s one of the key jobs [of Hobsonville Point], to demonstrate to the market that medium density is achievable.”

Image at top: The Sunderland showhome, with work starting on the pocket park behind it.

Links: Sunderland
Axis series
Axis series, small home test lab
Hobsonville Point
Studio Pacific Architecture

Earlier stories:

6 July 2014: Aiming up while others aim low: McGuinness style will lift Wynyard precinct
19 March 2014: Hobsonville test lab points way to more housing innovation

Attribution: Site visits, company release, interviews, Hobsonville Point, Sunderland & Studio Pacific websites.

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Aiming up while others aim low: McGuinness style will lift Wynyard precinct

In a city with a recent track record of low-quality leaky homes but aspirations to being one of the world’s best to live in, a group of councillors tried last year to cut the required Homestar rating for developments of 5-plus units from 6 to 4.

The objectives of the rating tool are to improve performance and reduce the environmental impact, making homes warm, healthy & comfortable. For the Wynyard Quarter’s first residential precinct on the Auckland waterfront, Willis Bond & Co Ltd has won the tender proposing a Homestar rating of 7.

Mark McGuinness.

Mark McGuinness.

Managing director Mark McGuinness said in an exclusive interview on Thursday: “We want the product that stays the test of time. To get that you need quality workmanship, product integrity & pricing. We’re certainly not the cheapest, and I don’t think we will ever be. [But] you don’t have to surrender quality to get a more affordable price point.”

What those price points will be, he hasn’t said yet. I use price as an indicator of value; he uses a wealth of factors incorporated in design to achieve a price point. The first stage of the Wynyard Quarter development will go on the market at the end of the year, when pricing will be known; prospective buyers can register their interest on the company’s website in the meantime.

Willis Bond has demonstrated harbour-edge expertise with Clyde Quay in Wellington and, in December, won the tender to develop the 4.7ha Sunderland A precinct at Hobsonville Point, where the owner, Housing NZ Ltd, has been notable for demanding high quality as a standard.

At Hobsonville, Willis Bond will develop 210 houses over 4 years. In the Wynyard Quarter it will develop up to 600 homes over 8-10 years.

As with Housing NZ at Hobsonville, Auckland Council-owned Waterfront Auckland is fussy about developing to high standards. Chief executive John Dalzell said when the tender result was announced on Thursday: “The quality of Willis Bond’s design & development process and its strong track record made it a clearcut choice. We want to do things differently with this next stage of development in the Wynyard Quarter – to create a new residential community which is a model of medium-density development demonstrating the highest standards of design & amenity.

“We have selected a developer who is willing to embrace the design & high sustainability standards we have set. Willis Bond got that from the start with an outstanding bid and a professional & enthusiastic approach since, which indicates they’re committed to our aspirations in a diverse range of residential units.”

The appointment followed an 18-month competitive tender process which Waterfront Auckland led as landowner & masterplanner, drawing 20 proposals from local & overseas parties.

Willis Bond’s ensemble is all New Zealand: 3 of the country’s best architectural practices – Architectus, Athfield Architects Ltd and Studio Pacific Architecture; sustainability consultants eCubed Building Workshop Ltd; building partners LT McGuinness Ltd and Haydn & Rollett Ltd.

The Clyde Quay Wharf development team has worked together on a number of urban developments in Wellington, including the Odlins Building (now the NZX Centre), the Free Ambulance Building and Mac’s Brewery on the waterfront, and the Chews Lane precinct in the Wellington cbd.

Among the ideas to come from Clyde Quay was the parking arrangement – all parking leases owned by the body corporate instead of the individual apartment owners, which will keep the ratio down to 1.2 cars/unit, helping the long-held council policy of reversing Auckland’s usual private:public vehicle ratios in this quarter.

An artist’s impression of the units facing Daldy St.

An artist’s impression of the units facing Daldy St.

Waterfront Auckland has the intention of creating an urban village in the Wynyard Quarter, business centred on the innovation precinct plus boutique commercial spaces in the new residential areas. All up, there will be 48,000m² of commercial space, including hospitality outlets, to give the area the life that other Auckland waterfront apartment developments lack.

One thing about this development distinguishing it from the first of those waterfront developments, Princes Wharf, is that the Wynyard Quarter precinct is on the way to somewhere – it sits between the route from the Viaduct Basin, Viaduct Events Centre, ASB Bank & North Wharf at one end, Air NZ’s headquarters and the new Fonterra offices under construction across from Victoria Park at the other, and a 5-star hotel, new marine sector developments & public spaces to come.

Another distinguishing feature will be the laneways through the precinct, making walking a more interesting experience – indicated in the section image above.

In another comparison, this precinct will look distinctly unlike the Maritime Square office buildings along Fanshawe St, which are all 6-7 storeys, reaching the maximum height allowed there. The residential development will have 17 buildings spread over 5 sites – a waterfront site on the corner of Halsey & Madden Sts, next to the soon-to-be-constructed Auckland Theatre Co building and overlooking Viaduct Harbour; and 4 central sites between Daldy, Beaumont, Madden & Pakenham Sts, fronting the new Daldy St linear park.

Heights range from 3-10 storeys, lower at the Daldy St end then stepping up. Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell began the explanation: “When we went to the market we’d developed a reference design which included all the outcomes we were looking for. The rules are quite complex – in fact, it’s hard to build out the gfa (permitted gross floor area). Even in our reference design it was hard.

“For buildings on Daldy St, we had a configuration. Architectus flipped that on its head and created mews housing, London-style. That’s an important part of the story, getting diversity & quality.”

Mr McGuinness picked up the story: “We’re getting very different styles, mews through to pavilions – larger, timber dwellings with big decks, midrise, 4-5 storeys, to a more conventional steel & glass apartment block which is about 10 storeys. So you’re using different materials, different architects, and it has a feeling a lot more like a neighbourhood than a monochromatic look.”

And Mr Dalzell again: “The interesting thing, when we’d seen a lot of different designs [Mr McGuinness had visited numerous cities overseas for ideas], was: How do you take all you’ve seen and apply it to here, unique to us, and it’s authentic? The overall response [to the Willis Bond proposal] from the Waterfront Auckland board was, it didn’t remind you of one particular design. There were elements, brought together in a way that uniquely responded to the site.”

And Mr McGuinness: “It’s one thing for a building to look good, but this is designed for solar access, that’s not a big austere block, that’s approachable scale, and the linear park complements what we’re doing there really well. You’ve got the park, then stepping to buildings up to 3-4 storeys, and through to the highrise that delivers solar access right through.

“There are little lawn areas, a lot of the apartments are double-sided [as they are on Clyde Quay], sizes are a real mix, the first quarter of them being 3 bedrooms-plus. They’re designed for different family sizings, different age groups.

“We get involved with apartments getting sold. We’re designing these apartments for modularity, so effectively we can do a bit of bespoke designing without being inefficient.”

Ground leases, and different ground leases

The last issue, which has become a major concern for Auckland residential investors, is that the land is leasehold. The 21-year renewals through some of Auckland’s leafier suburbs are a predictable problem, not helped by the sharp escalation in freehold property values in the lead-up to the last 2 major lease renewal periods.

The 29 Quay Park leases started with a long rent holiday and came up for their first ground-lease renewal in 2011. In addition, many apartment buyers found they were stuck in a sandwich, with a developer’s lease in the middle.

At the Viaduct, Tramco led the sharp escalation in ground leases. Over at the Beaumont Quarter, where ground leases were going to head the same way, a buyout & freehold purchase offer resolved the problem.

Waterfront Auckland has been innovative in the Wynyard Quarter, but I don’t know all the intricacies of that. ASB Bank building owner Kiwi Income Property Trust entered into a conditional ground lease agreement in 2010 for an initial 90-year term with one upfront payment of $15.9 million, payable on completion of the development, and an option to renew for a further 30 years.

Willis Bond’s deal is for a 125-year ground lease, also prepaid and the same as Clyde Quay. Mr McGuinness said: “It’s the nearest thing to freehold you can get.”

The driving force behind the McGuinness thinking is a sustainable future, pursued by a diverse group of graduates, academics & professionals through the McGuinness Institute, which he & wife Wendy founded.

It’s “a non-partisan think tank working for the public good, contributing strategic foresight through evidence-based research & policy analysis… We have developed a way of working together to produce reports, papers & background information that we hope will inform, support & inspire other New Zealanders.”

Links: Willis Bond
Clyde Quay Wharf
The McGuinness Institute
Athfield Architects
Studio Pacific Architecture

Attribution: Company, designer & institute websites, Waterfront Auckland & Willis Bond releases, interview.

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Willis Bond to develop Wynyard Quarter urban village

Waterfront Auckland and the developer of its first Wynyard Quarter housing project, Willis Bond & Co Ltd, are unabashedly aiming for high quality under the agreement they signed yesterday.

Willis Bond will develop 5-600 dwellings – a variety which will include apartments, townhouses & duplexes, and the number depending on configuration – in 17 buildings on just over 2ha.

People can register their interest on the Willis Bond website from today and will be able to buy off the plans by the end of the year. Homes in the first stage should be completed by 2017, but the whole project is anticipated to take 8-10 years.

An artist’s impression of the Willis Bond housing fronting Daldy St.

An artist’s impression of the Willis Bond housing fronting Daldy St.

The development will be on 5 sites – a waterfront site on the corner of Halsey & Madden Sts, next to the soon-to-be-constructed Auckland Theatre Co building and overlooking Viaduct Harbour; and 4 central sites between Daldy, Beaumont, Madden & Pakenham Sts, fronting the new Daldy St linear park.

The height range will vary from 3-10 storeys (there’s a 31m limit under the Wynyard quarter plan change) and the precinct will be notable for the low provision for cars. The Wynyard Quarter plan provides different ratios for different uses, but for these homes it will average 1.2 cars/unit.

While low car provision isn’t normally a mark of affluence in Auckland, Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said in an exclusive interview yesterday: “Most people in the Wynyard Quarter will not need 2 cars all the time. It’s one of those places where you can genuinely walk. If you have that amenity, walking can become quite addictive – I’d use a car 2 days/week now.

“Over time, people will get weaned off car ownership. You need housing in the right location, amenity around it, which the Wynyard Quarter has, and you need reasonable proximity to work, which the quarter delivers like very places do.”

This precinct won’t just be residential – it will have retail & boutique office spaces at ground level, and the whole central precinct will have 48,000m² of new office space & a 5-star hotel.

Willis Bond’s design team includes 3 leading New Zealand architectural practices – Architectus, Athfield Architects & Studio Pacific Architecture: “The designers have developed a masterplan for a sustainable urban village connected by lanes, thoroughfares & open public spaces. Public & green spaces will be readily accessible for visitors & residents alike. Permeating every aspect of the design are sustainability principles.”

The nature of a village would also mean that residents could trade up or down as circumstances changed – not from cheap affordability but, for example, providing smaller units for young professional couples for about $500,000, and offering homes of 3-4 bedrooms.

“We can see people being able to trade up & stay in the same neighbourhood,” Mr McGuinness said. Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell added: “And you trade off size for the convenience & amenity of being in a fantastic location. That gets back to the core reason we’ve spent so much public money to get the right environment for people like Mark to come into. If we’re going to change our demographics, we’re going to have to develop so they can progress.”

There are some unusual aspects to the Wynyard quarter. One, Waterfront Auckland retains land ownership, but Willis Bond has prepaid the lease for 125 years.

Another, concerning vehicles, is that Willis Bond will introduce body corporate ownership of parking spaces in its development. It’s done this in the Clyde Quay project in Wellington, negating the problem some developments have had of expensive spaces being idle or the need for a trade in parking spots.

  • I’ll return to the questions of design & shaping an urban village tomorrow.

Top image: Artist’s impression of a lane in the planned Wynyard Quarter urban village.

Link: Willis Bond, registration of interest

Attribution: Waterfront Auckland & Willis Bond releases, interview.

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Willis Bond sells refurbished Lambton Quay building

Willis Bond & Co Ltd has sold Grant Thornton House at 215 Lambton Quay in Wellington – the former ANZ Tower – for $63 million.

The sale to an undisclosed buyer settled on Friday 20 June. It was brokered by Bill Leckie (Colliers International).

Willis Bond fully refurbished the building, which was erected in 1984 and has 1900m² of ground-floor retail & 9900m² of offices on 15 floors.

Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said: “The building has been vastly improved by the refurbishment & reconfiguration that has opened up the building’s street frontages to Lambton Quay and Featherston, Hunter & Grey Sts, making a new premium location for fashion & other high-end retailers.”

Attribution: Company release.

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