Auckland's skyline is a sea of cranes as developers respond to the demand for apartments and people embrace the idea of inner city living. But all apartment projects are not created equal as Hometopia found out when we spoke to Mark Smith of Fall Properties, the developer behind the Viaduct's much-talked-about new Armada Village.
Hometopia: Has the popularity of apartment living in general surprised you?
Mark Smith: Yes and no. Apartments are popular living options in all of the world's major cities. They are comparatively affordable and allow residents to make the most of the leisure facilities, restaurants, theatres and nightlife, while doing away with the daily drudge of commuting into work from the distant suburbs. Having said that, the speed of the uptake has surprised me. I think much of it has to do with sky-rocketing house prices and the resurgence of the city centre. I take my hat off to the vision and work of Auckland Council for that.
HT: Talking about vision, what was your motivation and thinking in creating Armada Village?
MS: Like others I've witnessed the Auckland home market change beyond recognition in the last few years. Apartment living was destined to be a viable option for people who weren't prepared for life in the sticks. The problem was that the apartments being built weren't addressing the real issues. They were still being created with the renting and student markets in mind. No car parks, no leisure space, cheap interiors and, worst of all, no design personality. Just boxes really. How is that a valid option for a young family that wants to create a home? Where's the joy?
HT: So, Armada is designed for young families?
MS: And singles, and seniors, and couples in their 30's, 40's, 50s. You name it! Armada was created specifically to appeal across the board to a wide range of people in it's available living options. Whether you need four-bedrooms and two-car parks, or a one-bedroom studio with a cycle stand, it's available and everything else in between.
HT: Is that why you called it a "Village," to reflect a mixed community?
MS: Yes, that and to get across the importance we see on having green spaces in what is generally considered an urban environment.
HT: If Armada Village is going to appeal to families then access to schooling will be a major issue.
MS: Yes, it is. We have two day care facilities and a new primary schools within the footprint as well as being in-zone for Auckland Girls Grammar and a three-minute walk to AGC in Wakefield St. Auckland University and AUT are within a five minute walk.
HT: Apartments have traditionally not recorded the same high value increases as stand-alone homes. Do you think that will put some people off buying them?
MS: That's true, and it is because apartments have never previously been built for a diverse population group, hence the demand for them has always been smaller. Armada addresses that factor and I am confident owners will realise very healthy value gains over time, especially as more and more people are drawn to the city.
HT: You partnered with Weiss, Bannerman & Stark Architects and Essos Interiors on the project, why them?
MS: WBS are long time partners and were instrumental in conceiving the whole Armada concept. They have done groundbreaking work across the world and their approach is unique in New Zealand. They use space and light to create moods but never forget simplicity and function.
The stunning work Jayne Goodwin, and her team at Essos, did for the Sofitel Auckland blew me away and I was determined to have them work on Armada. In fact we even agreed to delay construction for a month to work in with their commitments on other projects. That's how crucial they are to our vision.
HT: How many apartments in total and what kind of price range are they?
MS: Just over 400 apartments and 45 townhouses. Apartments range from $550,000 to $3,000,000+ for the penthouse. The townhouses have three bedrooms and two bathrooms and are priced around $1,200,000.
HT: I understand completion is scheduled for March 2017, how are pre-sales going?
MS: That's right. We are very happy with pre-sales so far, all of stage one was sold within the first 10 days of being released. Stage 2 has seen strong buyer interest and will go on sale on 1 February 2016. The final third stage will be available for pre-sales from April.
HT: Are you offering buyers any pre-sales incentives and benefits?
MS: Absolutely. Buyers who register are offered the first opportunity to buy in a 10 day exclusive period from the release date. Sales made during that period attract a 10% discount off the listing price. They also qualify for an upgraded kitchen worth an extra $20,000, so it's one heck of an incentive.
HT: What sort of deposit is required?
MS: We require an initial down payment of $50,000, which is held in trust, with the remainder payable on completion in March 2017.
HT: Thanks Mark, we can't wait to see Armada Village in the flesh.
IN A NUTSHELL:
Name: Armada Village
Location: Viaduct Basin, Auckland CBD
Developer: Fall Properties
Previous Developments: Lannister Lane, The Eyrie, The Henshaw
Dwellings: 400 Apartments and 45 Townhouses
Architects: Weiss, Bannerman & Stark Architects, Interiors: Essos Interior Design
Construction: Fletcher Building
Priced: From $550,000 to $1,000,000+
Completion: March 2017
Selling Now: Yes
Off-Plan Incentives: 10% off listing price and upgraded kitchen
Sales Enquiries: James Patton, [email protected] 021 555 8790 www.armadavillage.com