New Martinborough lots small, but in big demand

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013

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It's Martinborough's biggest subdivision since founder John Martin laid out sections around a Union Jack-style square in 1879.

In terms of the number of lots, the 72-section Pinot Grove development in Jellicoe St is the biggest the town has seen, according to South Wairarapa District Council senior planner Chris Gorman.

Sales in the six weeks since lots were offered have reached double figures, with many buyers struck by the contrast with Wellington prices, developer Matthew Ryan says.

"People say, oh OK, $230,000 for the house, how much for the section? And we go, no, that's the landscaped land as well."

Work began on the development two years ago and lots went on the market at Labour Weekend, ranging from 400 square metres to 1045sqm and priced from $99,000.

A one-bedroom house and land starts at $220,000 and a three-bedroom option, with land, from $299,000.

Mr Ryan, a Wellington businessman, said the project, his first foray into developing, confirms a connection he has with the boutique Wairarapa town.

Seventeen years ago he bought Carrigafoyle, a property on The Terrace that John Martin built and gave to his daughter as a wedding present in 1902.

Mr Ryan sold his half-share in the home last year, around the time he bought Pinot Grove.

"Maybe it's Martinborough calling me back," he said.

He bought the nearly 9-hectare (22.5 acre), consented subdivision, then known as Cottage Grove, from British resident Cliff Cook.

After market research, he decided to reduce the average lot-size from about 1000sqm to 550sqm, almost doubling the number of sections.

"I just don't think the market exists any more for big plots and big lifestyle houses . . . I don't think that's where New Zealanders are at the moment."

He modelled his project on the Hatepe development south of Taupo, where he holidays with his wife and their 4-month-old son.

"You walk around Hatepe and there's 101 houses, but you'd have no idea. They're all single storey, and it's laid out for privacy."

He also worked a communal feel into Pinot Grove's design, including a playground, tennis court and heated swimming pool.

Houses are factory-built in Pukekohe and trucked down.

"Ten years ago, ‘transportable house' meant something cheap and nasty but there's amazing factory-built quality now," he said.

The smaller sections and simpler homes have allowed extra spending in other areas. Pinot Grove will be the only residential area of Martinborough with ultra-fast broadband, with fibre laid to every home, and about $600,000 of boundary hedges and other plants were trucked from Pokeno, south of Auckland.

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Mr Ryan and business partner Richard Adams are handling the entire project themselves and offering up to 90 per cent finance from a combination of local building societies and private finance.

Mr Ryan said about a third of buyers so far would be new Martinborough residents.

South Wairarapa Mayor Adrienne Staples said she was pleased the development was having that effect.

"It's important any town isn't just treated as a museum, so you need a mix of old and new [properties] and there's a market for new houses."

- The Dominion Post

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