Young urban specialists get involved in projects early
Changing times dictate new approaches, and Deborah Kelland (left) has done that in various ways. The new offices of her firm, Kelland’s Realty, on Gladstone Rd in Parnell make a statement and the creation of a “hip apartment team” makes another.
Kelland’s has specialised in city apartment work, competing there with Bayleys for a time, but is now off Princes Wharf, is tying up some of last year’s projects and thinking ahead on how to make things work for the next cycle.
The firm has become even more firmly project-orientated, rejecting the take-all model of traditional real estate agency.
Very precise customer targets
“Our target? Affluents who want desirable, creative and substantial properties.
“We have some niche markets: coastal subdivisions and individual coastal properties; designer houses, including penthouses; creative commercial projects; quality investments such as UniLodge (just started on Anzac Ave), Sebel, Metropolis, major projects,” Ms Kelland said.
Ross Hawkins has been specialising in the coastal developments, particularly the Omaha South project which will double the size of the settlement on the Omaha peninsula.
Axis projects went well
Kelland’s put through some successful projects for Greg Wilkinson’s Axis Group last year â€” revivals of old Whitcoulls space, which was turned into the Met and Soho apartments off High and Queen Sts.
“We’ve sold 83 of 87 of these, in three refurbished historic buildings, Whitcombe & Tombs, Lewis Eady and the Securities building. They have studs up to 3.4m high, exposed concrete beams and sprinklers, with designer fitout.
“The Met was much smaller, but the second stage included lofts up to 126mÂ², industrial New York in their style, very popular.”
“We’ve found the whole High St area has gone ahead and there still seems to be good rental demand there. Tenants are typically taking apartments from six months to a year.”
An interesting feature of these apartments is that, with no parking provided, some tenants are able to leave their car in employer-provided parking.
Aero features industrial look, high lofts
The next project is again a refurbishment, this one the Aero apartments by architect Colin Leuschke and Chris Morton, in the former Jean Jones building on Cheshire St, 22 apartments featuring an industrial look with high-stud ceilings, and mezzanine floors on upper units.
Two were sold before last September’s launch, all are now sold and work has begun for an end-June completion. These apartments were priced from $118,000 (gst included) for a street-facing 35mÂ² studio to $245,000 for 69mÂ², containing one bedroom, a study, a mezzanine level and a balcony with views across the steam locomotive sheds to the Domain, a short distance up from Carlaw Park.
“The high loft space was a major selling point. It was a quiet market towards the end of last year and it’s flown out the door.”
About six of the buyers are investors, with projections of 10% gross returns on studios, 8.5-9% net from $285-315/week rent on prices of about $150,000.
Similar Parnell project out soon
The Kelland’s team expect to have another Parnell project out soon, in similar industrial-look vein, probably pitched at a higher market. “We’ll release a few in the next three months, a lot over the next six months,” he said.
One of the interesting inquiries has come from developers â€” wanting to know why Aero has worked. Part of the secret, in marketing terms, may have been that the marketing team has been involved with the project from an early stage.
“People like the smaller boutique developments. Of course, they’re also the harder ones to stack up.”
He expects future projects to refine the ideas of the recent batch, and for there to be a move away from “the absolute shoebox. A studio at 2.4m stud height doesn’t work, but 3.5m opens up a whole new space.”