Richmond Estate in New Plymouth is arguably the city's premier seafront apartment development.
It's the closest such complex to the sea, with just the railway and walkway running between residents and waves surging on to the rocky coastline. The complex also is notable for its 1964 origins as the Tasman Hotel before the major transformation in the early 1990s that created today's elite gated apartment environment.
The new Richmond Estate struck an immediate chord with people looking for a unique quality residence on the shoreline and most of the apartments were sold as quickly as they were finished - if not before.
The appeal of life in this landmark building is shown in the length of time owners usually remain here. Today's feature property - Apartment 3 in the tower block - is a prime example; it's only available now as an estate sale, with its first owner having lived here for the past 20 years or so.
My visit to this apartment this week renewed the appreciation that I first felt back then when the complex was launched, when I wrote the original story marking its development.
The features that impressed then, do the same today, despite the intervening two decades. Tiled steps lead up from St Aubyn St to the passcode-protected foyer entry. It's a gracious generous space, with the lift doors and stairwell to the left and a glazed staircase to the right that leads down to the offstreet secure carpark and the residents' communal indoor swimming pool.
Access to the apartment couldn't be easier - step into the lift, press button 3, and wait briefly while you rise quickly and smoothly to your destination. The doors slide apart and you step into the upper foyer in front of the doors to the apartment.
You can't help but look to the right, where a window frames a stunning view of the city and seafront curving away from you, with the Wind Wand centred and throwing its own curve upwards.
That's the focus of life here ... the views. And they have an even greater impact inside the apartment.
The full height entry door - with its brass handle engraved with owner's name and apartment number - opens into a welcoming personal foyer and the striking effect of a tinted mirror wall in front of you.
Short hallways run left and right from here to link up with each end of the living areas. If you turn to the right, you pass two guest bedrooms, a computer nook tucked into a cupboard space, and the fully tiled main bathroom; turn left, and you find the compact laundry and the master bedroom suite.
It's in the living areas where you really appreciate just what life here is all about.
The views bring my tour through the apartment to a stop.
The apartment encompasses one complete level of Richmond Estate's tower block - windows across the north face of the open-plan living areas and on each side are filled with sea, sky, city and coastline. You just have to pause and soak it all in.
Only then can you turn your eyes to the space in here and see what it offers.
The kitchen is the central focus - a designer feature with curved glass-block wall providing modest separation from the lounge space on the far side of the room. The quality of the kitchen is obvious - Corian benchtops, two wall ovens, and gloss-paint finishes. It's not a huge space, but nicely proportioned for apartment living with everything in easy reach.
The dining table sits in front of the kitchen, enjoying a view out to sea past the spiral feature of the exterior stairs that rise up the face of the building. They are a legacy of the original hotel structure, but have become a striking design feature in their own right.
The lounge is bathed in afternoon sun ... it would be easy to settle into one of the chairs and bask in the rays and views. Straight out in front is the shimmering sea; off to the left the seafront suburbs run away to the reef point and the city swimming pool, with the cone of Paritutu Rock rising on the horizon.
Just behind here is a set of French doors that open into the master bedroom and its spacious walk-in wardrobe and ensuite. Glazing in these doors is interesting - convex glass that creates an appealing variation on the conventional flat planes you usually see.
There are more views in the bedroom, looking over city and suburbs to the west.
You can enjoy a closer experience out on the apartment's private deck - back in the living areas and to the right, where two sets of French doors open out. Here, there's an outdoor table and chairs where you can sit and absorb the view.
It really is good up here - above the life and bustle of the city. You can watch the traffic zipping past on the street below, making its way up past Centre City to the Liardet St lights. With the height, the sound of the vehicles doesn't seem intrusive ... it's just the city breathing. Inside, of course, you don't hear it.
People are reduced to miniature as they stroll or cycle the walkway in front of
Richmond Estate. If you feel the urge, you can easily descend the lift and take the few paces along the footpath to join them.
That's one of the appeals of life here so close to the city, according to long-time resident Gary Pigott. He and Bronwyn have lived in one of the complex's townhouses since they were built and have never regretted their move in here.
Maintenance is no problem for residents, with any work taken care of by the body corporate, he says. "The laws are mown for you and the gardens are done. If you want to have a holiday, you can just lock your door and take off."
The indoor swimming pool is well used by residents, he notes. "Most use it every day ... it's kept at 29 degrees so you have year-round swimming."
Proximity to the city shops and restaurants is another appeal. "We can stroll down town for a meal and a drink and then wander back again," Gary says.
"There's always something to see on the walkway ... it's been a fantastic development for New Plymouth and it's used immensely by the public. It's one thing we didn't mind spending money on."
Fine sunny days are not the only attraction for Richmond Estate residents, he says.
"There are the gnarly seas, sunsets, storms, winds ... the whole nine yards. It's why coastal living is so popular."
Gary notes the developments all the way along the seafront. "There are million-dollar lifestyles ... people are even moving off valuable homes and rebuilding there in the desire to live overlooking the ocean."
Making that investment in an existing property is almost the only way to get that lifestyle now, he adds. "Unless you move out of town, there's not much seafront left undeveloped."
Harcourts consultant Jack Kurta is marketing Apartment 3 in the Richmond Estate and agrees, observing that the last couple of apartments sold in the complex have been completely redesigned and fitted out by their new owners.
Jack is confident of good interest in this latest apartment sale. "Historically, they have
sold well here. This is arguably the best high-rise development in the city and the complex provides a swimming pool and gated security that not all others have."
Apartment 3 is well placed in the tower block, he says. "It's not too low and not too high. And the aspect is stunning."
WHERE: Apartment 3, Richmond Estate, New Plymouth.
HOW BIG: 180sqm in floor area, plus two carparks in the complex.
HOW MUCH: To be set at auction, at 5pm on June 11 at Harcourts offices, unless sold prior.
WHAT YOU GET: Designer apartment lifestyle in the iconic Richmond Estate tower block in New Plymouth. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and living areas wrapped across the face of the building that draw in stunning views of the city and sea.
MARKETED BY: Jack Kurta and Paula Petersen at Harcourts - 06 759 9160 or 0274 433 358.
ON THE WEB: www.open2view.com - ref 293001.
SEE IT: By appointment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
How much would you pay for a seat on the coastal walkway?