Asian investors question Chris Cook's Albany Heights project

Despite resource consent being granted in May, all is quiet at the Gills Rd site.

Progress on an intensive housing development in Albany on Auckland's North Shore appears to have stalled, with offshore investors saying they are in the dark about what is happening.

The 124-unit Albany Heights Villas project is owned by Chris Cook's Hunter Gills Road Ltd.

NBR ONLINE understands more than 100 investors from Asia bought into stage one of the development, which offered them a 38% return on their investment for a down payment of $65,000.

Mr Cook could not be contacted for comment.

Resource consent was granted on May 25, but construction has yet to begin.

Investors from Hong Kong and Singapore have contacted NBR ONLINE pleading for information, saying they have not been updated on the project for some time.

"Things haven't been going well with this development. For the past two years practically nothing was done on the site," one investor says.

"We all fear that the worst has happened."

The website is down, and when NBR ONLINE visited the development site there was no one at the sales office.

The entire site is fenced off and covered with grass, indicating no work has even begun.

Two prefabricated offices belonging to HEB construction sit on the site unoccupied.

A worker at a neighbouring construction site, who did not want to be named, says activity at the Albany Heights Villas site is erratic.

Last week there were some cars there accompanied by men in suits, but no indication of any construction work, he says.

When NBR ONLINE called developer Michael Webb-Speight, who has bought into stage two of the development, he said the development was still happening.

He then said he was busy and would call back, but had yet to do so as this story was posted.

Chatter on internet property blogs within the last three weeks suggests the developers are no longer in touch with investors.

A recent post on the propertytalk blog reads: "Do you know where Chris Cook has gone and how he may be contacted?"

Others are posting the Albany Heights Villas Facebook page asking for updates on the project, but receiving no reply.

One person has posted Chris Cook's cellphone number on the Facebook page, suggesting people are desperate to reach him.

The whole project was in a perilous state in June when Spinnaker Capital, part-owned by NBR rich lister Adrian Burr and Auckland finance broker Martyn Reesby, called in its first mortgage.

It instigated a mortgagee tender to recover its funds following a default. 

NBR rich lister John Copson rescued the development at the last minute by refinancing the mortgage. 

He could not be reached for comment.

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