New apartments not for sale

Kenyon Clarke

Tough business lessons mean Auckland property developer, Kenyon Clarke is in for the long haul.

Kenyon Clarke is a rare breed among property developers; he personally invests in his own projects. Founder and CEO of suburban apartment developers The Du Val Group , Clarke is retaining ownership of around 45 apartments in two high-rise complexes he is constructing in south Auckland. Clarke's multi-million dollar personal investment - he will offer many apartments for rent - is a departure from normal practice among developers, most of whom move on to their next project once sales are finalised. He says his investment is based on helping secure the financial future of his four children – and because it makes good business sense.

How can I ethically say we see a great future for this district if we're not here too?" he says. "Our investment shows people buying into these complexes we are confident of the future, that we are bound economically into this area too."

Clarke will be outlining his philosophy at a function at the Ellerslie Events Centre on March 6 on a theme of Accepting Change and Securing Your Future Through Property. Organised by Du Val Wealth, Tony Alexander Economic Commentator and the founder of My Food Bag, Cecilia Robinson, will also speak. The Du Val Group is about a year from completing the 17-level tower Lakewood Plaza in Manukau while construction of a second development - The Avenue Apartments, a 119-room complex also in south Auckland - is expected to be finished in about 15 months. The two complexes are estimated to be worth a combined $180m. Clarke will keep ownership of about 30 apartments at The Avenue and a further 15 at Lakewood Plaza. A third project, the Mountain Vista Estate, a $170m, 200-apartment complex, is to be launched in August, making a total of $400m of construction in the pipeline and a further $230m of completed projects. Although today Clarke controls a multi-million dollar business, less than 10 years ago he was so broke he could barely afford 50c lunches. In the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) he was declared bankrupt after 12 of 27 companies he owned went into receivership, forcing Clarke to survive on the dole for the following two to three years. Although Clarke lays the blame at the feet of his bank lender at the time, he says the experience was "one hell of an education. "It was the most expensive MBA you could get," he says. "I estimate it cost me about $80m all up. I ended up on the benefit, could barely afford 50c lunches and had to watch my wife wash her hair with soap.