Auckland surgeon John Harman hopes apartment block will be just the medicine

About 80 per cent of the 58 apartments at St Mark's in Remuera have sold.

About 80 per cent of the 58 apartments at St Mark's in Remuera have sold.

A former breast surgeon turned property developer hopes his new apartment project will help Kiwis embrace a more efficient way of living.

John Harman has turned his hand to property investment after an accident left him unable to operate.

His 58-unit St Marks apartment block will break ground this month in Remuera.

John Harman, breast surgeon turned property developer of the St Mark's apartment complex.

John Harman, breast surgeon turned property developer of the St Mark's apartment complex.

The site is where Harman's private breast cancer treatment clinic is based and his plan is to build a new clinic around the corner. 

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Harman has held the site for 27 years but his desire to upgrade his clinic kickstarted his property plans two years ago.

Designs for St Mark's high-end apartments are inspired by New York-style apartments.

Designs for St Mark's high-end apartments are inspired by New York-style apartments.

"I just thought I'd get a consultant in and get someone else to do it. 

"But that was not so easy because there's not a great deal of property developers standing who want a joint venture or want to buy the land with a medical centre on it, it was just too complex.

"I thought I might as well do it myself."

Harman is a convert to apartment living, especially the decluttering aspect of it, and he thinks that if the quality was high enough, more Kiwis would embrace "right-sized living".

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"Studies show that in the last 5 decades our average home size has doubled. We've gone from 120 square metres in the 1960s to 240sqm in the 2010s with our home layouts now second only to Australia's.

"Yet on a day to day basis we use only 40 per cent of our living space."

Harman said the site at St Marks could have sustained 158 units but he felt that was too dense.

"Most developers would have but I didn't want that. St Marks is about quality, liveability and giving Aucklanders an opportunity for a new way of living."

Over his surgical career, Harman has had high points, when he established the first clinic of its kind in the country, and low points, when a patient over complalined about breast reduction surgery which went wrong and left her with gross scarring. 

The matter was dealt with by Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal which in 2007 found Harman guilty of not giving adequate information for informed consent and he was fined. 

Today his property project occupies much of his time and Harman says his past experience came in handy. 

"I was quite used to thinking outside the square and in a way I've used a similar approach in that I wanted to build an apartment building and medical centre where A, I and my family want to live, and B, was the best way to build for the future. 

"We had four basic tenets that we used in our design and we still mention them. One, it's got to be beautiful; two it's got to be liveable. Three, it's got to be waterproof - I don't want any leaky building - and four, it's got to be profitable."

About 80  per cent of the apartments have already sold, largely to young professionals and downsizing baby boomers. 

Prices range from a one-bedroom unit for $700,000 excluding a carpark, to high-end three bedroom marble-tiled apartments for $2.7 million.

But four of the one-bedroom units were set aside as "special housing" and priced at $450,000. Twenty-five people applied for them. 

St Mark's is due for completion in early 2018, with a cafe and a deli on-site. Harman says he has sold two units to his children and has plans to move in himself one day.

 - Stuff

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