After an extensive refurbishment and strengthening programme, Erskine Chapel is now open for bookings.

About Ian Cassels. 

Not shy of making a comment or two, Ian Cassels is a true innovator in every sense of the word. An intensely deep thinker, it’s no surprise that he’s a maths and philosophy graduate - analytical talent enabling him to find a way to thrive in the commercial property world after the 1980’s stock market crash.

30+ years and a long track record later, Ian has seen every twist and turn of the property cycle in both residential and commercial settings. Over the last decade, The Wellington Company has expanded its development geography to include developments throughout New Zealand and now delivers a broad range of residential, commercial, industrial and land development projects.

The Wellington Company's reputation as a developer of choice has seen it form partnership projects with Iwi, the Crown and Local Councils - testament to the trust in its ability to deliver. It has a significant existing portfolio and development pipeline, with energy directed towards making a real difference in the communities that New Zealander’s live and work in.

Ian is renowned for his intuitive market forecasting and work ethic - in a previous lifetime he and late brother Alasdair had a business sandblasting and spray painting ‘anything big and tricky’. His intuition is why TWC has a reputation for delivering what others said couldn’t be done. For seeing what others can’t. For investing where others wouldn’t. For questioning & continually evolving. 

Ian's tenacity for something he believes in is the stuff of legend: The Erskine development in Wellington’s Island Bay took nearly 22 years to develop through multiple hurdles, but the result is a triumph to heritage restoration, beautiful design (independently awarded by NZIA), and quality community living for 96 households.  Included in the development is Erskine Chapel: a building of exceptional architectural, historical and social significance. Erskine Chapel is listed as a Heritage New Zealand Category 1 Historic Place and recognised in the Wellington City Council Heritage List. Its preservation, restoration and strengthening required $7M+. The project received a $250,000 upgrade works grant from the Ministry of Culture & Heritage, $75,000 from Heritage New Zealand, and $10,000 from Wellington City Council for seismic strengthening, but the rest was funded by Ian. The chapel’s reopening in October 2023 was a milestone moment for the company: now providing a glorious event space for hire and community hosting.

When asked about what he considers to be The Wellington Company’s greatest hits, it’s visibly difficult for him to choose:

Ian Cassels at the entrance of 110 Featherston Street, a building in his commercial portfolio.

Ian Cassels at the entrance of 110 Featherston Street, a building in his commercial portfolio.

There’s Spark Central (the project resulting in a 5 NZGBC Green Star rated 4-storey 35,000m² commercial office building and most of the heritage listed Tisdalls Building - including the façade and historic internal stairway). Spark Central set a record price for commercial real estate in Wellington when sold, and it has lengthy awards to its name, but ultimately it speaks to Ian’s love of community – whether in a residential or commercial setting.

There’s Conservation House, another multi-awarded building. This project represents Ian’s appreciation of green innovation: he purchased the first available electric cars in NZ, he’s put windmills of rooftops and has huge aspirations for NZ’s construction industry. When Conservation House was built in 2006 hardly anyone was talking about sustainability, but it was a paramount driver of this project right down to the level of  construction waste being sorted on site and minimised. Conservation House went on to win a slew of awards: NZIA Resene Supreme New Zealand Award,  Wellington Civic Trust Award, Ministry for the Environment Environmentally Sustainable Design Award, the Property Council of NZ Commercial Office Energy Efficiency Award, and was ranked 9th in the world for green commercial buildings by Grist

Then there’s Hannah’s Laneway: now a vibrant home to gourmet delights and hospitality gems...but before Ian's involvement,  an inner-city wasteland. His development created 174 apartments, 18 shops and 2 offices. A 2004 Research report attributed it to helping revitalising the area by increasing the population seven-fold over a decade. That type of urban design thinking is where Ian firmly believes the future is: higher density, but with heart. He firmly believes in Wellington's potential as a thriving global city, where creatives and corporate and public sector professionals live affordably, close to where they work and play.

All that aside, his biggest impact is yet to come.

He continues to test new markets and opportunities: For the last decade he has been deeply invested in improving NZ’s building methods, sustainability record, and the addressing the affordability vs quality crunch. A manufactured housing facility has been created and 6 years have been spent in research and development to create bode. The goal is to transform the future of New Zealand’s housing, by providing highly functioning and performing homes at the most affordable price possible.

Community support is a huge part of Ian’s DNA: plenty of well known innovation start-ups have him at their beginnings. A significant supporter of both the arts and sports, Ian has previously been a Director of the Nikau Foundation, which aims to build healthy, resilient and self-sustaining communities. Ian is a committed member of The Nikau Club, and in perhaps his most important contribution to his beloved city, has pledged a $10,000 donation to The Wellington City Mission for every home sold over $800,000 - providing essential and ongoing cashflow for this phenomenal organisation.

Partnerships are also big for Ian. One that’s in plenty of news stories but not well understood is that of Taranaki Whānui. The partnership has already completed three residential developments: 56 townhouses in the award-winning Paetutu Petone, Te Puna Wai’s stage 1 + kaumātua housing, and Hauwai’s 93 apartments in Mt Cook. A further partnership project is under construction in ARO: 61 townhouses. All have delivered significant benefits to Taranaki Whānui, and Ian looks forward to working with the Trust on many future initiatives, to help their vision of restoring, revitalising and strengthening the cultural, social and economic wellbeing of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.

None of this has been possible without a small, but high performing team of which Ian is very proud: Co-Director Caitlin Taylor has been by his side its inception and now the business boast teams in commercial, residential, finance and operations. Those internal teams are connected to strong partnerships, and are responsible for a diverse portfolio. Collectively, the pride however sits on the community impact  where it is needed the most.

Commercial. Residential. Innovation. Urban Design. Community. It’s quite a career already – but Ian Cassels is nowhere near done. 

Ultimately, Ian's focus is on what’s coming next. Because there’s a lot.

The Wellington Company: we’re about people, and buildings.