Sell then build

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Developers seeking three buyers at $2.8m each to kick-start luxury villas.

Recession isn’t in the vocabulary of the developers launching a luxury eight-villa complex on Queenstown Hill.

Villasqueenstown.com, the company behind the distinctive cedar-roofed Commonage Close, is offering the first stage of five villas, right next door to the Close, at prices from $2.795 million.

Each villa in the new development, Killarney Way, has three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms.

The villas are said to be a logical next step, now 12 of Commonage Close’s 14 units have been sold.

Development company frontman Wayne Foley says 2008, recession and all, was the company’s best year – they sold almost $12m of villas at an average price of $2.87m each, “which generally met or exceeded valuations”.

Two of the Commonage Close units were in fractional sales, with buyers signing up for quarter-shares.

Foley sees this as “the way of the future”.

He and Christchurch business partner Bert Govan want to pre-sell three Killarney Way villas before starting to build, hopefully from June, for completion and settlement early in 2011.

“In our view, the market in 2011 will be much stronger than it is now and unique product such as Killarney Way will be one of the few new developments completed at that time.”

Commonage Close has been available for upmarket accommodation since opening in October 2007 – actor Hugh Jackman stayed there when filming X-Men Origins: Wolverine a year ago.

Nightly stays there start at $1125 during peak periods – “Unlike some others, we’re not reducing our rates or appearing on discounted websites,” Foley notes.

He says the emphasis with Killarney Way is more on amenity values such as gardens, courtyards and natural light to make the villas more suitable for permanent living.

“We wanted features that would really set us apart from other villas or apartments on the market, with real points of difference.

“Thanks to Jim McKie from Dalman Architecture in Arrowtown, we’ve taken one of the most spectacular sites on Queenstown Hill and designed villas that have multiple levels of connection to this stunning landscape.”

The Killarney Way website trumpets: “Lush, elegant, with a natural simplicity to evoke restfulness, these outdoor areas are loosely modelled on Japanese gardens.”

Villa sizes range from 290 to 311 square metres, a little less than Commonage Close floor sizes.

Foley: “We’ve traded that extra space for more outdoor living areas.”

Something that won’t change is that buyers will again be offered a furnishing package by Foley’s wife Julia’s company, Queenstown Interiors.

“Every [Commonage Close] purchaser has remarked on the quality and attention to detail.

“Obviously, it’s a more challenging market [now] but that’s where points of difference become more important – people are more discerning and that’s where quality counts.”

Foley thinks another advantage with Commonage Close and Killarney Way is that the sites, unlike most on Queenstown Hill, are surrounded by a green belt.