St Heliers developer hits back
The owner of a contentious Auckland seaside property dubbed "the Maheke Monster" is speaking out to dispel rumours no one will tenant it.
Developer Robin Sheffield has been criticised by local residents for building a three-storey property in Auckland¹s Tamaki Drive at St Heliers.
The Save Our St Heliers association (SOS) opposed the beachfront complex and warned of a boycott when it opened.
Mr Sheffield told NBR ONLINE residents of the seaside community had yelled at him on the street in disgust at the building.
"There has been a lot of misinformation. People have been making assumptions of what may or may not have happened," he says.
SOS chair Sally Hughes told NBR ONLINE it is sad the building has been empty for almost a year.
"The fact the Sheffield building has been empty for so long is a salutary lesson for developers that you offend your local community at your peril."
However, the owner insists there are tenants. The lower floor has had Westpac bank as a tenant since last year and a bank spokesman says there has not been a drop-off in clientele.
The developer confirmed two out of four second-level office spaces had been leased.
The three apartments on the top floor were also sold, with Mr Sheffield living in one of them.
Café to move in
Mr Sheffield confirmed a café owned by Scott Brown and Jackie Grant will open before the end of the year.
Mr Brown, who signed a 12-year lease on the building and confirms he has been paying rent since February, says he considered subleasing his space, mainly due to the "economic environment".
He hopes the café will be neighbourhood driven and laughed off suggestions residents might boycott it.
"Word on the street is that while before it was built there was a lot of controversy, but now that its is built it has died down."
Mr Brown says he is no stranger to community controversy, as there was also opposition when he opened his Takapuna beach café four years ago.
Mr Sheffield says the council is to blame as it changed height allowances, which increased the rates on the site.
"The redevelopment of land in St Heliers is caused mainly by the council increasing the rates because they increased height allowances for those sites."
Mr Sheffield says he built up to 12.5m, so rents could cover the cost.