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An Auckland touch in capital's $100m tower

By Ray Lilley

Friday 9th June 2000

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Nigel McKenna

The key developer behind Auckland's Viaduct Basin apartments is planning a new $100 million tower in Wellington, one of the biggest developments the city has seen for years.

Nigel McKenna's Melview Developments is well-advanced in planning the joint-venture project with the direct-development arm of property syndicator Waltus Investments.

The project, which will be sited at the Parliament end of the capital's business district, is expected to include separate buildings for commercial office space, high-quality apartments, retail space and car parking.

An original partner in the project, Auckland's Metropolis developer Andrew Krukziener, had pulled out because of "changing circumstances," Mr McKenna said.

He understood these included issues of timing for the development and offshore opportunities available to Mr Krukziener.

Mr McKenna, who helped develop Auckland's Viaduct Basin apartments, said the project would take a "new-build approach to the apartments" and provide premium-quality accommodation at reasonable prices.

The site, one of the largest vacant sites in the CBD, had attracted half a dozen competitive bids, with the joint venture paying "significantly less" than the combined rating value of nearly $8.5 million.

"We can do 3000sq m floor plates, so we're researching who's out there and what they want," Mr McKenna said.

While resource consents have still to be sought, Waltus director Shane Hodge hopes construction will begin on the site by year end.

It is expected to take 12 to 15 months to complete.

The site was designated for towers of up to 16 levels.

With Melview bringing a very effective apartment-design model from Auckland, "Wellington will finally see an apartment building to be proud of," said Mr Hodge.

Most apartment blocks in Wellington were refurbished office space - "cannon fodder" - which had cut the supply of mid-level office space but was hardly providing quality apartment products.

"This development will be purpose-built from the ground up," Mr Hodge said.

"With its waterfront views and northern (sun) aspect it will provide quite a difference from what is now available in the Wellington apartment market. What's being built in Auckland is a far superior product."

The joint venture expected to sell the apartments but was likely to hold on to ownership of the office tower and the retail/parking centre.

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