$500 million Albany CBD has been unveiled: Auckland gets a northern rival with room to grow

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009 at 3:00 pm in

A While some might want to simply refer to it as a ‘town centre’, the New Zealand Property Monitor wants to be the first to the acknowledge this bold move by Rick Martin and his Cornerstone Group, the Symphony Group and Progressive Retail.

Albany City Property Investments, a JV by locally based developers (as listed above), has bought a leasehold interest in the block of land bounded by the Northern Motorway, the North Harbour Stadium (still Auckland’s best choice of a Rugby World Cup venue) and Oteha Valley Road to construct a half-a-billion dollar CBD, which many are predicting will one day usurp the Auckland CBD as the place to do business in New Zealand.

Its supporters believe that the attraction of living along the coast from Warkworth down while drive the current and future financial and professional leaders of the region to ‘cross the bridge’ in droves. All good news for property owners up north and those buying up developments like Whisper Cove at Snells Beach

The new development is planned for straight behind the new Westfield 70,000 sq m mega-mall.

The plans are subject to an Environment Court ruling. That process begins in the first week of December, with a two-week hearing on appeals to North Shore’s plan change for the area. Unsurprisingly, Westfield and Foodstuffs are the main objectors to the proposed intensification of Albany.

The developers plan to raise an initial tranche of $30-mil from the public to fund a $63 mil land purchase, which will trigger the first steps on three parts of the site, a leasehold interest in 12.85ha.

The Cornerstone Group, which owns the block, is selling a leasehold interest to the investors.

Kevin Podmore of Albany City Property Investments told the New Zealand Herald that Albany’s transport links(the new busway); the growth profile of the area; its zoning and general amenities had facilitated the group’s interest .

The market-leading Bob Dey Report as ever had the definitive detail on the financing:

“The entity taking the Albany secured bond issue to the market is Albany City Property Investments Ltd, owned by Symphony and Auguste Holdings Ltd (Mr Podmore & Mr O’Sullivan’s private company, separate from St Laurence) in a 65:35 joint venture.

The bond issue will be used in the $63 million acquisition perpetually renewable subleasehold interests in 12.85ha at the Albany City centre – beside the North Harbour Stadium & existing Mega Centre, surrounding the 70,000m² Westfield mall where earthworks are now under way, and between the Northern Motorway & Massey University campus.

The 12.85ha is part of the 54ha Cornerstone Group bought from Neil International Ltd at the end of 2004. Cornerstone retained the freehold but sold the lease over the whole property to Symphony. Symphony sold some blocks before deciding to retain the rest and put developments into the new fund, hence the sublease interests.

The properties going into the Albany City fund initially are:

- Block A1, 3.2ha beside the motorway, earmarked for development of a bulk retail complex & office space
- Business park, 5.5ha just above the Greville Rd interchange on the motorway, excluding another section of business park land which has been sold
-Block G, just over 5ha nearest the North Harbour Stadium, earmarked for a hotel (in 2 stages, 120 rooms followed by 80 rooms), lifestyle retirement village, residential & mixed-use sites. ”

Albany is projected to provide employment for upwards of 15,000 and home to nearly 10,000, making it a significant market in its own right.

The development, a proposed, includes a 200+ room hotel, three 30 storey apartment towers and other dwellings, 15 multi-storey office towers, a huge retirement complex and a bulk retail centre.

Albany Community Board chair, Malcolm Black, welcomed the development which he noted meant that Albany had come of age and could no longer be considered Auckland’s poor cousin.