Lakeview: ratepayer subsidised 'affordable' 80 sqm apartments on sale: $2.25 million

by Peter Newport - Oct 28, 2023

Crux has obtained details of a “private, slow launch” of Lakeview apartments that show even low-level apartments with no view being marketed at over $2.2 million.

Local ratepayers have already poured around $100 million into the Lakeview project rather than sell the Australian developers council land for $42 million. Council CEO Mike Theelen, acting under sole delegated authority, has given the developers 20 years to pay for the land and has sunk around $100 million into land preparation, plus over $50 million into the arterial road project that is focussed on giving access to Lakeview.

A long-term Queenstown resident, with a background in the real estate industry, has been horrified by the pricing and lack of detail for Lakeview apartments that were supposed to help Queenstown’s housing crisis by being affordable.

The resident, who wishes not to be named, has been dealing with a Lakeview sales agency in Melbourne, Urban Activation.  The agency specialises in acting for big developers and has worked not just in Australia selling high end, high rise properties but in New York as well.

Emails seen by Crux show the sales agent pushing a 84 square metre apartment which is being sold for $2,250,000 on level 2 with no view, or for $2,350,000 one floor up on Level 3, still with no view. The apartment has two bedrooms and two bathrooms with a small, combined lounge/kitchen area. The apartment is being sold with “concierge parking” even though council documents show that the developers have drastically reduced car parking spaces as a result of being forced to reduce building heights.

This follows the developers doubling the building height first proposed to QLDC. The project was fast tracked through the Government’s post Covid resource consent scheme in spite of an undertaking to elected councillors by CEO Theelen that the project would go through a publicly notified consent process in return for councillors accepting the much higher buildings.

Yours for just $2,250,000. An 84 square metre Lakeview apartment with no view.

The small height reduction demanded by the Government’s EPA still left the buildings much higher than the original proposal and over double the height of any existing Queenstown properties.

The resident who spoke to Crux says that they are concerned the apartments are being sold at an unrealistically high price to overseas and out of town buyers and that could make them virtually unsaleable in the future.

When the Melbourne agent was asked what premium high level apartments with a view might cost a price point of around $20 million was indicated.

The sales agent makes no mention of any affordable options instead offering this description of Lakeview.

“The master plan precinct will be set over multiple stages and deliver an unprecedented level of luxury apartments, hospitality and retail precinct by Britomart, health and wellness, hot pools and 5-star hotels. “

Crux does not understand the Britomart reference unless that describes the partner who will develop the retail stores at Lakeview.  An Official Information Act document shows that Britomart Hospitality Group was engaged by QT Lakeview Developments Ltd to provide “placemaking, marketing and leasing expertise for Lakeview.”

Perhaps in a surprise to current Queensotwn CBD retailers the promotional brochure for Lakeview apartment sales trumpets "a new town centre"

"Te Huika embodies the epitome of sophistication; with an unwavering commitment to excellence, it aspires to create a new town centre rivalling the esteemed downtown Tāhuna | Queenstown. Through a symphony of ingenuity, craftsmanship, and vision, Te Huika shares and creates the stories of the past, present and the future of Te Taumata | Lakeview."

Source Lakeview sales document.

Is "a new town centre" what QLDC signed up for?

QT Lakeview Developments Ltd is owned 75% by Melbourne developer Ninety Four Feet and 25% by Centuria Lakeview Holdings Ltd and New Zealand company that is ultimately owned by Centuria Capital in Sydney. This structure indicates that the Lakeview development is now 100% overseas owned.

The Official Information Act document seen by Crux refers to a move in 2015 by QLDC to entirely remove the Lakeview site from the District Plan and an associated Plan Change (50) with the developers then stating, “Therefore there are no rules under the Queenstown Lakes District Plan that are relevant to the proposal.” The same document also refers to elevated levels of lead and arsenic at the site, in addition to the asbestos that has already been responsible for a massive blowout of QLDC costs to clear the site. 

The development agreement between the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the developers remains hidden from public view and the developers have consistently refused to talk to Crux about any aspect of their project, in spite of the tens of millions of dollars of public ratepayer funding they are receiving.

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