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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Kapiti in New Zealand

    Default Developer rising from the ruins

    Hello all,


    If there's one mistake Andrew Krukziener will admit to, it is turning down a $14 million offer to buy the land the Metropolis tower now stands on - a week after he'd paid $11 million for it.

    That was 14 years ago and the consequences of that decision still haunt him.

    It was a decision that would ultimately damage his business reputation and significantly diminish his then fortune of $30 million.

    Today the elegant shadow of the 38-storey Metropolis looms over Krukziener as a reminder of what can, and did, go wrong: how a young, ambitious Rich Lister could be sucked dry by market forces.

    Krukziener, 43, has spent the past six or seven years fighting legal battles, and gradually repairing damage to both his reputation and finances, while quietly being involved in a number of investments and developments in Auckland.

    He's kept his head down, shunning publicity and interviews. While his glamorous sister-in-law Gilda Kirkpatrick, married to fellow property investor James Kirkpatrick, parties hard and appears regularly in the social pages, Krukziener and his wife Gitta are rarely seen.

    Now, he says, it is time to set the record straight. Back in the late 90s, Krukziener was a young, hotshot developer, the property wunderkid who dreamed of building an elegant $200 million tower in the heart of Auckland's CBD and had done it.

    But when the property market stalled and took a dive just before the millennium, it took Krukziener with it.

    People stopped buying apartments and Krukziener's fortunes changed almost overnight.

    He was forced to sell his $100 million property portfolio, which he had built over over the previous 15 years, and a collection of exotic but "largely unsaleable" European cars.

    As Krukziener tells it he had two options - go bankrupt, in which case creditors would lose out heavily, or attempt to keep going and pay back as much as he could. He decided to keep going, little knowing that he would still be struggling to recover eight years later.

    "I paid back $18 million to a number of parties who had supported me when I could have walked away from these debts."

    But it's not over yet. The taxman is claiming $6 million in income tax and fellow high-flyers Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson want to bankrupt him over a $4 million loan, which is interest on interest on a loan he took out to finance Metropolis in 1998.

    For someone up to his neck in it, Krukziener - by his own admission "a happy guy" - seems remarkably unfazed by the looming battles with the IRD and Hanover Finance.

    He's no newcomer to the cut-throat world of business, honing his skills in his university days.

    He spent time between lectures wheeling and dealing in the sharemarket, and buying and selling old cars.

    He worked nights as a waiter and by 1985, at just 20 years old, Krukziener bought his first property - a block of 10 flats in Onehunga with a business partner. Eighteen months later Krukziener amicably split a 180-strong portfolio of residential properties with his partner and went solo.

    When the financial markets tumbled in 1987, followed shortly after by the commercial property market, Krukziener escaped relatively unscathed.

    His portfolio favoured residential and, seeing an opportunity, he began buying empty office buildings and old city warehouses which no-one wanted. Anticipating the inner-city apartment boom, he began converting the space into apartments. By the late 1990s, he had developed more than 50 buildings.

    He went on to buy and renovate existing commercial buildings including the former Customhouse, now DFS Galleria; the National Mutual Building; the former Air New Zealand building at No 1 Queen St; the National Insurance Building; and more recently The Wharf at Northcote Point.

    But with Metropolis the intention was to create something perfect from the ground up. After travelling widely, Krukziener couldn't help comparing the best of overseas architecture with what he saw in Auckland - a city he describes as "beautiful to look out from but not so good to look back at".

    Beauty is a recurring theme for Krukziener. He has, he says, liked beautiful things since he was a small boy.

    When he saw tall, Iranian beauty Gitta Saidi at a friend's Austin Powers party, he was smitten.

    "She was absolutely beautiful. I fell in love like a 15-year-old." He invited her to lunch to discuss designing a project (Gitta had studied architecture) and, he says, after 1 hours knew she was going to be his wife. Three hours later, at the same lunch, he told her.

    They were married four years ago in an extravagant ceremony at home which, unsurprisingly, Krukziener planned meticulously. Guests were greeted by two young lions and their handlers, and the swimming pool was filled with rose petals and two white swans.

    Today there's no sign of the stuffing having been knocked out of Krukziener.

    He still operates at top speed, runs notoriously late for meetings, fits more words per second into a conversation than the average DJ, and is still unfailingly optimistic about the eventual outcomes of his business troubles.

    He remembers the excitement of finding that big chunk of land in the CBD, home to the decaying former Auckland District Court, was up for sale. Krukziener went for it. Here was the site he had been looking for. While the area was rundown, he knew it wouldn't stay that way for long.

    So confident was Krukziener of his success that he turned down an offer to buy the site for $3 million more than he had paid for it a week earlier.

    "That was one of the biggest mistakes, commercially speaking, I've ever made. I just wish I had taken that offer."

    When the property market turned and it all went wrong for Krukziener in 2001, people remembered him for that one failure.

    Metropolis, he says, unfairly defines a career which spans 20 years and involves more than 90 projects, and still threatens his future.

    It wasn't meant to be that way. Metropolis was meant to be an architectural gift to Auckland, a building that would be admired well into the next century. So determined was Krukziener to get the design right, he took a group of architects, designers and project managers on a world tour to show them the buildings he loved. Top of the list were New York's Chrysler Building and Four Seasons Hotel, both of which have lent inspiration to the Metropolis.

    Krukziener - a self-confessed perfectionist - oversaw every detail with painstaking precision. He lived not far away, in the penthouse of Quay West on Albert St, across the road from his elegantly fitted-out offices. Never far away was an exotic car, often valet-parked in the forecourt of the then Regent Hotel.

    "I have always loved cars. They are sculptures that you can drive."

    Property guru Bob Jones, in his latest book, Jones on Management, lavishes praise for Metropolis, saying the building was in the hands of "a lone individual whose loving devotion to its detail was well-known. It stands in raw contrast to the head-nodding committees behind the Beehive and museum atrocities."

    But Metropolis is not a building that gives Krukziener the warm fuzzies.

    The past seven years have been "tough" but, he says, but he's not a worrier by nature.

    "I have a fabulous wife, wonderful children, great parents and good and supportive friends and business partners ... everyone has some difficulty in their lives. But if I've got to have difficulty in my life, better it to be money, rather than your wife and kids being sick."

    If he had one day to live, he says, he would spend it with his wife Gitta, his two sons, his parents and his sister Lisa.

    With the birth of Louis, now 3 - followed by another son, Axel, three months ago - Krukziener says his priorities shifted.

    "Fatherhood mellows you, it makes you think, 'I'm quite a different person than 20 years ago'."

    The urge to drive racy European cars at high speed - he was infamous in his younger days for clocking up a stack of speeding tickets and losing his licence - disappeared.

    Now he says he's more likely to stick to the speed limit in the family Range Rover.

    And what does Krukziener think the opportunity is in the property market today?

    "It's simple really. You buy what no one else wants. At the moment, that's inner-city apartments. They are very cheap, prices are low, there's an over-supply of them. You buy today on what they will be tomorrow."

    And he hopes to build more beautiful buildings, adding that he doesn't do ugly buildings no matter what the profit.

    "I feel a moral responsibility as a developer. You are creating the city in which you live. If you're going to do it, do it properly."



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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003


    Umm he is made of tougher stuff than me!

    But it's not over yet. The taxman is claiming $6 million in income tax and fellow high-flyers Mark Hotchin and Eric Watson want to bankrupt him over a $4 million loan, which is interest on interest on a loan he took out to finance Metropolis in 1998.

    For someone up to his neck in it, Krukziener - by his own admission "a happy guy" - seems remarkably unfazed by the looming battles with the IRD and Hanover Finance.

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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    North Shore City


    Ask Blackrock construction LTD, now defunct, what they think of Andrew.


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