A vibrant harbourside community

Comprising 1.8 hectares of tranquil waterfront land at the tip of Hobsonville Point, the rapidly developing Catalina Bay precinct is already proving to be one of the most vibrant harbourside communities in Auckland. And the secret is only just getting out.

It’s hard to conjure up in one’s mind a more comprehensive, yet seamless marriage of old and new in recent urban rejuvenation work around the Auckland region.

What developer Willis Bond & Co. and precinct master-planner Cheshire Architects have already achieved at Catalina Bay is remarkable. What is set to come next promises to be absolutely stunning. 

If you’re an aeronautical buff or interested in the esteemed history of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, then Catalina Bay will be a familiar landmark. If not, then exploring and uncovering the rich urban narrative of this pretty spot, tucked away in a north-facing inlet around 13km from the central city (or a short, tranquil ferry ride away via Beach Haven across the water), will prove both entertaining and enlightening. 

The clever thing about stage one of the development is the sympathetic and dynamic refurbishment of existing historic RNZAF buildings within the precinct into a mixture of commercial, office, retail and hospitality-focused enterprises.  

The clue is in the name, with Catalina Bay having been base of operations for the majestic Catalina and Sunderland flying boats of the 1930s and 40s, as well as home for other military personnel. 

Now, giant workshop buildings have found new leases of life as the homes to corporate entities, as is the case with the impressive steel latticework and concrete Catalina Workshop, which still boasts myriad heritage features such as its immense industrial doors incorporated into the sympathetic refurbishment work.  

Across a public piazza sits the immense curved sweep of the Sunderland Hanger which, 80 years after it was built, will host a mix of shared collaborative office spaces and what is sure to be a fun-filled focal point for many; Little Creatures’ state-of-the-art microbrewery. 

No less than seven existing RNZAF buildings on the site have been saved and rejuvenated in this manner. Development Director, Wayne Silver, says that the work Willis Bond & Co. in consultation with Cheshire Architects has undertaken at Catalina Bay bucks the trend for new development work in other parts of the region.

 “Auckland has done a poor job of maintaining heritage. What we’ve got left we absolutely must preserve for future generations. The critical task is to identify the best and figure out how to keep that,” he says. 

In this context, Catalina Bay is a heritage goldmine. Even an old building once used for personnel training and a canteen has been reborn with a new focus – and one not too far removed from its original purpose. Fabric Café Bistro is another big hit in the new precinct, affording waterfront views from its deck and already a popular spot. Brunch followed by a stroll with the kids, friends or the faithful family dog along the newly-built boardwalks of the Te Ara Manawa Coastal Walkway – which traces its way along 5km of Upper Harbour coastline – is certainly a splendid way to unwind of a sunny summer morning. 

Because as much as Catalina Bay is about the wonderful heritage buildings at every point on the compass, creating an energising community feel within this special spot is also an important part of the multi-stage masterplan. This aspect, too, has developed quickly, thanks to the already-busy Catalina Bay Farmer’s Night Markets, held monthly and attracting some of the best artisanal food producers around. 

Stage Two of the Catalina Bay precinct will get underway in the coming year. And this is where ‘heritage’ gives way to ‘home’, with the Catalina Apartments and townhouses beginning to take shape alongside the majestic Sunderland Hanger. 

Comprising 52 exclusive apartments and nine townhouses, Catalina Apartments have been carefully crafted by award-winning Architectus. Featuring generous one to four-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 55m² to more than 200m², every residence at Catalina Bay will be unified by modern style, proximity to exciting amenities and with the breath-taking Upper Harbour on their doorstep. 

Exhibiting the best of the best, penthouses of exceptional quality will sit at the top of the Catalina Apartments building, showcasing stunning 270-degree views of the Waitemata Harbour. These unique residences will comprise four bedrooms, a generous entertainer’s kitchen and plenty of premium finishes and fittings, with options for a second living or media room. 

“We are excited to announce Catalina Apartments in this world-class location,” says Catalina Bay Stage Two Development Director, David McGuinness. 

“Willis Bond is very pleased to be involved in such a historically rich area, helping to refurbish the heritage buildings and bring life back to Catalina Bay. The apartments will be a special offering; absolutely unique and sitting on the water’s edge, they will become part of this vibrant community, where people come to work, relax and reside.” 

David says the outstanding waterfront living opportunities at the Catalina Apartments will be further enhanced with an on-site movie theatre within the complex, gymnasium facilities and a concierge service for residents. 

Best kept secret? It sure is. But probably not for much longer. 

To register interest in visiting the exclusive Catalina Apartments display suite in 2019, visit www.catalinabay.co.nz/apartments

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