Apartment living to take off in Hamilton East

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Apartment living is set for a huge boost in Hamilton East, with developer Matt Stark buying the Waikato Regional Council complex to add to his earlier purchase of the former Hill Laboratories building.

The latest acquisition was made possible because the council is shifting next year to another high-profile Stark Property development, Tristram Precinct in central Hamilton, which will also have Opus as a major tenant.

Other central city developments are also in the pipeline as Stark forges ahead on several fronts.

The Hamilton East buildings boast prime Waikato River views as well as access to the river and are likely to include some office and retail space at ground level. Up to 100 residents could be added to the heart of Hamilton East village once the developments are completed over the next five years. 

“What it does is give confidence to Hamilton East that there’s going to be a significant amount of redevelopment happening in the area,” Stark says.

The Hill Laboratories building, on Clyde Street, is being stripped out at the moment, with redevelopment likely to start by the end of March.

“It will look dramatically different,” Stark says.

The complex is set to have 21 upmarket apartments, with a further 25 also to be built at the site in a range of sizes.

The complex will include a swimming pool for residents, and will feature laneways leading to courtyards and restaurants.

The first residents are likely to move in early next year, and the intention is to include some “work-live” arrangements, with occupants also working from ground-floor studios.

Stark says his main target market is baby boomers looking for the convenience of low-maintenance apartments along with space.

The 7600 square metre regional council site, bought by Stark in December, has access from both Grey and Cook Streets and also access to the river. It will also feature river-view apartments along with Grey Street office frontage. 

Stark said it will be predominantly a residential project, with some commercial activity.

“That’s the plan, we’re just fleshing that out at the moment.”

Development will start once the regional council moves out in mid 2020.

Waikato Regional Council and Opus will be major tenants in Tristram Precinct.

Local business owners have voiced concern at the impact of the exodus of regional council workers but Stark says: “The whole village will slightly change and the offerings might have to slightly change but I think with close to 100 new residents there you’ve got a village that’s 24/7. You’re going to get people coming and going all the time.

“Hamilton East has got an appeal to it because it’s a village, so you’ve got  a village right on your doorstep, you’ve got amenity right there, but you’re still very close walking distance to the CBD. 

“That’s why I’m quite excited about what happens. Hamilton East is going to change significantly – we want to play a part and make sure we transition that well.”

Meanwhile, work started in January on Tristram Precinct, formerly known as Hamilton Central Shopping Centre. It is a major development which will house three levels of offices and a department store, extending along Tristram Street from Ward to Bryce Streets.

Current tenant Kmart has closed, and will reopen in July on the eastern side of the 1.3 hectare site in a new 5400 square metre department store, while the Tristram Street side of the existing building will be knocked down and rebuilt to open in mid 2020. 

Stark Property is working with Edwards White Architects on the project, which will be a three level, A-Grade commercial building with just over 14,000 square metres of lettable area and 250 car parks.

The regional council will take up a floor and a half with exclusive access from Ward Street, bringing more than 500 workers into the central city. Opus will occupy the Bryce Street end of the top floor and hold main signage rights to the building. 

Regional council chief executive Vaughan Payne said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to bring our Hamilton staff together under one roof in a new, fit-for-purpose building within the precinct.” 

There are just 2000 square metres still to let on the ground floor, which will also have carparking.

Stark also has other sites either being developed or in the pipeline, including Panama Square, a multi-level co-working space in Garden Place, set to open this month. 

He also plans a five-storey office block on the corner of Victoria and Knox Streets, currently occupied by a dry-cleaners, and has gone unconditional on the carpark site on the corner of Anglesea and London Streets, with a delayed settlement three or four years away. He has also bought what he calls the “Oval”, the well-known building on the corner of Tristram and London Streets occupied by the DHB which is set to renew its lease.

“I’m not a figures person, I just want to make sure that we do good by our city,” Stark says. 

“My take on developers is we’re a privileged people in one sense. We play a very privileged part in how we form and create cities for people.”

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