Troubled project gets off ground
Five years after plans were drawn up, work has finally begun on the nine-storey Appartamento Il Casino development in Tory St.
Development firm Globe Holdings bought the former Il Casino restaurant site in 2006 for $2.25 million, but plans to transform it into a 33-apartment complex have been delayed repeatedly.
Globe managing director Andrew Fawcet said work began in earnest on the development last month, and he is hopeful that the project will be completed by the third quarter of 2013.
''There has been a bit of improvement in the market so we have 70 per cent of the complex presold,'' Fawcet said.
''At 70 per cent I think that gave us enough confidence to proceed.''
About 25 of the apartments - which range in value from $400,000 to $1.9m - have been snapped up so far.
Since plans for a nine-storey apartment building were unveiled in 2008, a series of start dates for construction have come and gone.
In February 2011, Fawcet told The Dominion Post work would be started in April 2011 and would be completed before Christmas this year.
The start date was then revised to early 2012 with a potential completion date of April 2013.
While that date was now delayed, Fawcet was confident the project would not face further problems. ''It is fully consented and construction is under way ... we're good to go.''
One person who had bought an apartment off the plans had asked for a refund, Fawcet said.
''We only had one purchaser who was dissatisfied with the timeline and we refunded their deposit. The rest have wanted to stay on.''
Outstanding debts and threats of liquidation have also hung over the project.
Last year, debts of $75,000 owed to Wellington City Council by Fawcet and Globe Holdings were settled after they were publicly notified.
Home ventilation company Leap Australasia applied to put Globe Holdings into liquidation last November.
That application was withdrawn after settlement of an unspecified claim was reached.
''That whole thing was an absolute nothing,'' Fawcet said.
''We are feeling very secure.''
Construction firm Watts & Hughes will carry out the development, which will retain the existing Il Casino facade on the Tory St side.
The design would allow for retail on the ground floor and apartments in the floors above.
Design work and consultation with Wellington City Council focused on retaining the feel of the existing building by recreating the illusory mural on the northern side of the building.
Three buildings would be built from the foundations of the original Il Casino, with the northern building incorporating glass facades and all carrying through features such as exposed concrete walls. Lead architect Stephen McDougall said the emphasis was on using modern materials in a traditional way. "You can't create genuine old. We wanted to avoid fake and artifice. We would rather put emphasis on crafted detail and doing things well.''
The Dominion Post