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New Lynn’s visionary “Street in the Sky” to begin building soon

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A unique Street in the Sky” will soon begin to take shape above New Lynn, as developers Tasman Cook start work on the hugely imaginative Merchant Quarter Mews above the new carpark building.

Merchant Quarter Mews is to be an open-air lane on the roof of the five storey car-park, with 18 double-storey and two single storey maisonette apartments built on either side. It is literally a street in the sky: an entirely secure environment that takes the concept of a gated community “to new heights”. The Mews will bring a novel new dimension to the debate about affordable housing in Auckland. It adds a stunning new vision to the already visionary concepts created by Waitakere City Council nearly two decades ago, which had seen that the end of the universal suburban house and garden was coming and new lifestyles were starting to beckon.

To the scorn of many, Waitakere Council foresaw an emerging demand across all generations, for apartment, terraced and similarly intensified housing in the suburbs. It was not the end of houses with gardens, but more choice was needed and apartments and terraces would be increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. They would also form the new generation of affordable housing types. Waitakere had seen that intensification, plus fast and efficient public transport, would bring new population, new business and industry, and new investment to transform sleepy suburban shopping centres into vibrant town centres. Large numbers would live in apartments and seek to work and recreate locally. Car ownership would possibly decline because of the convenience of buses and trains.

A unique Street in the Sky” will soon begin to take shape above New Lynn, as developers Tasman Cook start work on the hugely imaginative Merchant Quarter Mews above the new carpark building. In pursuit of this concept, council planners and companies like Infratil, had long considered the idea of a high rise apartment tower on Totara Avenue, but a stunning concept such as a “street in the sky” a la Merchant Quarter Mews, wasn’t on any official horizon. Once again the magic of New Lynn which gave us our first shopping mall, has led the way.
The Merchant Mews of 18,900 square metres, double-storey maisonettes (duplexes in modern parlance) plus two single storey apartments, will be built alongside the ten storey,
110 apartment tower now half-built and 90% sold, above the other end of the carpark.

All the Mews’ duplexes are two bedroom/two bathroom, come complete with white-ware and prices are up to $499,000. They are selling off the plans now. Construction will possibly start before Christmas and both the Mews and the tower block are due for completion in June or July 2014.

Tasman Cook’s Vaughn Foster says that the company is able to achieve such rapid construction times through a combination of methodology and concentration of effort by builders, Kalmar Construction. “We can have up to 250 builders at peak times,” he says. Vaughn says that 96 of the 110 tower apartments have been sold with buyers from across the spectrum of the community.
All 96 apartments sold have gone to private buyers, about 15% of whom were older citizens looking to down-size; Vaughn reckons that there’s a lot more unfulfilled demand in the “grey” market yet. With apartments ranging from $246,000 (all sold) to about $450,000, there are also a good number of new home buyers. Most are buying-to-live but there are some investors, meaning that there will be apartments to rent.

Tasman Cook has previously concentrated on developing CBD hotels and serviced apartments, but are also commencing the new “Brickworks” development at that other visionary town centre in the making, Hobsonville Point