Rock solid look one to treasure

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It sounds bizarre but the stone exterior of Hamilton’s latest inner-city apartment complex has its roots in a State of Origin rugby league game two years ago.

Chris Dinan and his brother Ben – of CBD Developments – were at a game at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium when Chris found himself thinking about the superb sandstone exterior at the Treasury Casino which they had visited earlier. The classy timeless appearance had left a deep impression on him.

“I said to my brother ‘we’ve got to use that sandstone one day on one of our buildings’.”

Hamilton’s newest inner-city apartment complex is only weeks away from completion – and one of its features is the Hinuera stone exterior.

Chris admits it’s probably the part he loves best and the complex is named the Treasury Apartments in honour of its inspiration.

“I guess the building reflects Waikato products all the way from the subcontractors to the materials  used – aluminium from Ullrich Aluminium, Hinuera stone  and even the concrete from Horotiu.”

The northern CBD’s latest landmark on Rostrevor Street comprises 15 apartments – a mixture of two and three bedrooms – and a large ground floor commercial/retail space. Most apartments are sold but there are still two-bedroom apartments available.

For $529,000, buyers get two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a walk-in wardrobe – and a decent view over the CBD.

The striking building made an immediate impression on passers-by when its “skirt” came off a month or so back and people realised just what was being built at the site.

It’s a high impact building and Chris believes they are delivering a high-quality apartment for an affordable price. 

“We’ve kept things modern but we are also building with robust materials inside and out that are maintenance free.

“We want these buildings to still be here for the next few hundred years. We are building for a long time.”

Chris and Ben Dinan, whose initials make up CBD Developments, have been developing sites for about four years. They began with apartments in Hillcrest and Ulster Street but the CBD was always their focus. In this respect they took the lead.

When they built their first block of 14 apartments with a coffee shop on the ground floor on Vialou Street, there were plenty of doubters.

“Everyone said I was mad. They said why are you building in the CBD – it’s not going to work. I said ‘if it doesn’t, it doesn’t, at least I’ve given it a shot’. Well four years later it certainly does work and people love living in them.”

Next they found a site opposite the Waikato Times – 521 Anglesea Street – and built a block of apartments with commercial ground floor space where CBD Developments is now based.

The company runs all of its own jobs, right from the planning consent process to the complete build and even some of the sales.

CBD Developments does the construction and directly employs its own sub-contractors. Chris says it’s a far more efficient way of working.

“It’s just a well-oiled machine and we have years of experience being on jobs and being on-site to make those problem-solving choices there and then. Instead of having to send information away and have meetings, we can make those decisions straight away which stops any holdups.

“We can do them cheaper by cutting out the middleman and we have a lot more control.”

The Treasury Apartments complex was supposed to be finished in November but they are a month ahead of schedule.

Chris says a key is CBD Developments’ relationships with its sub-contractors.

“I like to think we have a culture of respect and trust.”

They insist on tidy building sites, which Chris says is vital not just for health and safety but for productivity.

Who buys the apartments?

“It’s a mix of empty nesters, first home buyers and investors really. There are a lot more people coming into the city to live who don’t want the maintenance of a section. Here they can lock up and leave and go to the bach for a few days a week.”

Treasury Apartments is one of a number of developments underway in the northern part of the CBD, transforming the look of the area.

“The whole area has changed a lot.  I think it works really well, the mixed-use offices and retail and residential all working together as a community.”

Chris can see big growth potential in the central city and feels some pride to be contributing to it through CBD Developments. Their grandfather was a builder in Hamilton and a bridge inspector.

“He spent a lot of time building in Hamilton and working on the tracks back in the day. To be one of nine kids and to have me and my brother grow up to be chippies – the only tradespeople in the family – it feels good, like we are kind of replicating what he did.

“Now it’s our turn to give back to Hamilton and help it grow.”

As the complex nears completion Chris takes a rare moment to admire it from across the street.

“I’m proud of all the work we’ve done, but especially this one,” he says.

And the highlight? It’s back to that State of Origin moment and the sandstone look.

“It’s got to be that Hinuera stone that I love the most. It really does finish it off.”

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Geoff Taylor

Waikato Business News editor Geoff Taylor. Email: geoff@wbn.co.nz