$220m of new work planned

5:00 AM Tuesday March 17, 2015 Anne Gibson

Precinct Properties is planning a skyscraper (centre) for Auckland's CBD.

Auckland's rapidly expanding economy has prompted the city's biggest private developer to announce $220 million of new work.

An eponymous family-owned Parnell-headquartered business is behind this swag of new construction: Mansons TCLM (the initials stand for father Ted with sons Culum, Luke and Mac) yesterday revealed the plans for three huge new city blocks.

One couldn't say any of these buildings are particularly glitzy.

None are super high-rise towers, like Precinct Properties' plans for the waterfront's Downtown, or Chinese NDG's 52-level Ritz-Carlton and apartments on the old Royal International site.

This Kiwi family builds rather squat, commercially successful utilitarian office blocks on the fringes of the CBD, often picking areas on the way up as the pressure goes on commercial land. Newmarket, Parnell and just above Victoria Park are their areas of choice right now.

However, it was also this family which built, then sold, Shortland St's high-rise Lumley Tower and they featured on last year's Rich List with a $420 million fortune.

Their own HQ opposite La Cigale French markets is not exactly at the flashy end of town. Their offices are a bold statement in minimalism.

Mansons build big spec-ed up office blocks, often with double-height bold atriums, advanced services in aircon, lifts, lighting and electronics, huge floor plates so corporate staffers can work more closely together and extensive underground carparking.

Unusually, they build without pre-leasing, and they do their own construction. This tells you they have serious money because they don't need the security of tenants to pre-fund them before they dig the hole or pour the concrete.

This is a three-generation business - in the mid-1970s, Ted founded the business with his father Colin and worked on houses before he moved into the commercial field. He started out in Ponsonby as a house-painter then became a renovator, buying second-hand ovens from fellow developer David Henderson who ran an electrical goods dealership in the area before it was gentrified.

Mansons TCLM manages the operation from acquisition of a site, planning and local authority approvals, building and construction, lease negotiation, contract and lease documentation, property marketing and management.

They are also big Green Star fans - the new blocks are in the five-star camp, adhering to the national voluntary rating system which aims to minimise new blocks' environmental impact.