Aussies’ $7m home-build plan

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A wealthy Australian couple are spending $7 million building a luxury home near Queenstown.

They bought the 4491 square metre Closeburn Station site, overlooking the Glenorchy Road, for $3m, pending Overseas Investment Office (OIO) approval.

The OIO’s now granted consent to Kristin and Philip Richards’ company, Montpier Investments Pty Ltd, because of the promised economic benefit to New Zealand.

Design work is underway for a substantial dwelling with a construction budget of $7m.

The couple estimate the full-time equivalent of 34 employees will be involved in the two-year build.

The Richards told the OIO they’ll use their Queenstown base to oversee the NZ expansion of their wider family’s waste management business, JJ Richards & Sons Pty Ltd.

The company, already the largest privately-owned waste company in Australia, set up an NZ branch – now employing 103 people, with a $20m-plus turnover – in 2001.

“The establishment of the intended residential base at Closeburn”, they say, would be a significant factor in expanding beyond Christchurch into other South Island centres including Queenstown.

The family, who own a cattle breeding property in Australia, say their Closeburn purchase, which includes a one-27th share in a sheep and beef farm, is also likely to fuel their further involvement in NZ’s agricultural sector.

As a condition of the OIO approval, the Richards will make a $25,000 donation to the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG), along with an inflation-adjusted annual contribution of $4300.

The family are buying their plot from Indonesian David Salman and American Jed Frost, who co-developed Closeburn Station with local developer David Broomfield in the late 1990s, following tenure review.

Salman and Frost, who own a house on a neighbouring section, originally planned to develop the plot themselves.

In approving the $2.85m sale of another Closeburn section, in 2012, the OIO obliged the purchaser to make the exact same contributions to the WCG.

That purchaser, the family trust of Australian businessman Denis Mackenzie, subsequently built a lavish home which earlier this year was sold to NZ’s richest man, Graeme Hart, for a Queenstown record of about $24m.

Mountain Scene reported last week that Hart’s since bought a neighbouring property for an undisclosed price.

The Richards’ section had been marketed by Arrowtown-based Luxury Real Estate NZ since March 2014.

According to the sales blurb, the building platform “offers dramatic views across Lake Wakatipu to the iconic Walter and Cecil Peaks then beyond to the Remarkables mountain range”.

“This site provides all the aspects required to build the ultimate alpine retreat – a sense of space and seclusion, an ever-changing but always spectacular landscape and of course long hours of sun.”

Luxury Real Estate NZ director Terry Spice says that this year alone his firm’s brokered five section sales between Closeburn Station and Wyuna Preserve, near Glenorchy.

He adds that the average sales price is $2.6m.

scoop@scene.co.nz