Written by John Williams
In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a new breed of apartment rising above our city streets – one that offers generous floor plates, high-end fit outs, and a growing list of amenities for the exclusive use of their discerning residents, such as gymnasiums, pools, saunas, libraries, rooftop gardens, and even private dining rooms and cinemas.
In turn, these developments are attracting quite a different demographic to your traditional apartment dweller; predominantly older generation, owner-occupiers and empty nesters who are demanding a new level of service from their body corporate and building management team.
Steve Plummer, Managing Director of Scope Strata Management, is a man well versed in what is required to run these high-end properties, having managed many of Auckland’s most prestigious residential towers, including The Metropolis in Auckland City. He and his team have been engaged by Pacifica’s developers, Hengyi, to set up and administer the body corporate of this landmark building, and he’s up to the challenge.
“Hengyi’s approach has been refreshingly different,” he says. “It’s unique in my experience, in that they wanted us to be on board right from the beginning – from the planning and construction stages of the building, proactively assisting where we can add value to set the building up for when the residents move in, in 2020.”
Steve says that he and his team from Scope Strata have a huge amount of practical, hands-on experience of working with buildings once they’ve been built and occupied – an invaluable and often quite different perspective to the designers and builders.
“I certainly feel this was one of the primary reasons why we were chosen – for our experience and the feedback we could deliver throughout the project from a practical and hands-on point of view,” says Plummer. “Also because I have personally committed to the project three years out from when it will be occupied – and being directly involved during that time to ensure that when the first residents move in, everything that could possibly have been thought about has been, and that every measure has been put in place to ensure that the building is well managed and the residents are well looked after.”
Steve says that this early engagement is essential, to get a smooth transition from being a building site into becoming high-end homes for the new residents. “We want to avoid that jolt,” he says. “Having intimate knowledge of the building and being on board with all the important contractors will streamline the process, essentially meaning everything will be up and running by the time the first residents move in.”
Over and above the practicalities of getting to know his way around a very complex building, Steve says that he has also been involved in both the financial and legal processes that need to be established for the 295 unit titles, plus how to integrate the boutique hotel that will occupy the lower floors into the stratum.
“I have a good understanding of the legal and contractual side of setting up unit titles and also in the dynamics of body corporate legislation,” says Steve. “Providing input on the legal prospective on how the titles within the Pacifica are structured, and the pros and cons of how the levies should be split and costs allocated, plus looking more closely into how different financial models would work, is all part of the service myself and my team are working on with Hengyi. Not everyone has the depth of experience to deal with these complexities,” he adds.
Steve goes onto say that the mix of people living in apartments is changing, with an increasing number of owner-occupiers over investors – especially in the high-end developments, such as Pacifica. “People are understandably more emotionally and financially invested in a building, because it is their home,” he notes.
“Typically, in the past, ninety odd per cent of apartments were rented out. So you’d go to a body corporate meeting for a block of, say, a 120 apartments, and there’d be just a handful of people in attendance. Normally, the building manager would carry most of the proxies from all the other owners because they were managing the individual units in the building,” explains Steve. “That’s changed, and with more owner-occupiers, there is increased interest and a much higher expectation of service. Questions such as what am I getting for my money? How is it being accounted for? Do I trust that company? There’s can also be a lot more involvement from a committee perspective and there has to good level of trust and accountability,” he adds.
With the coming of Pacifica, Steve and his team at Scope Strata Management understand that their clients’ expectations of service and professionalism have increased exponentially, and are fully conversant with the complexities of setting up and managing a body corporate for this new genre of apartment building.
“We are really excited to be involved with Pacifica,” says Plummer. “We started our journey with Hengyi in January 2017, so we have invested at lot of time in this building, and are definitely committed for the long term. When the first residents move in, in two years time, I’m confident that the hard work that all parties will have put in over four years will be evident by the new level of property and service our clients will experience.”