Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Downtown's empty sites magnet for drunks

The former Auckland Star site between Shortland and Fort Sts has been empty since the 1980s and is now used as a carpark. Photo / Greg Bowker
The former Auckland Star site between Shortland and Fort Sts has been empty since the 1980s and is now used as a carpark. Photo / Greg Bowker

Two large sites in central Auckland have been vacant for more than 20 years - and have become refuges for binge drinkers.

The former Royal International Hotel site next door to the Atrium on Elliott between Albert, Victoria and Elliott Sts, and the former Auckland Star site between Shortland and Fort Sts have been empty since the 1980s and are used as carparks.

Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers, said having the empty sites was "not optimal" and the mayoral taskforce had identified inner-city carparks as alcohol pre-loading points - where people go to binge drink before going on to licensed venues.

They were unstaffed and could be entered freely.

"It's not good. There are a lot of reasons vacant sites are not optimal," Mr Chambers said.

Alex Swney of Heart of the City was surprised the sites had been vacant for so long but said plans for them had been "massive" and could not be justified.

The hotel was knocked down in 1987 and the five-level Star building two years later.

While towers have been built all around, the sites remain empty. Both have been owned by South Korean investor/developer Dae Ju, headed by Jae Ho Huh.

The hotel was demolished to make way for a Farmers department store and the Star site was to be an office block. But neither plan eventuated.

Auckland lawyer Marcus Beveridge of Queen City Law represents Dae Ju's interests in Auckland. He advertised the Star property on his website as for sale.

QV lists the hotel site as having been sold early last year for $53 million to Furu Ding's NDG Asia Pacific (NZ), the Shanghai business which also has a big land holding north of Auckland.

Zoltan Moricz, senior director of research and consulting for property consultancy CBRE, said the Star site had been marketed as an office site.

The Korean owners had worked with Brookfield as development advisers and partners until about 18 months ago and at one point, the site was on the short list of options for a new home for the ANZ Bank, Mr Moricz said.

BIG GAPS

Ex-Royal International Hotel site, 104-106 Albert St / 5-13 Elliott St
* Hotel demolished in 1987.
* Reverse bungee amusement ride operates on the site.
* Plans for $300m 67-level Elliott Tower never fulfilled.
* Site owned by China's NDG Asia Pacific (NZ).

Ex-Auckland Star site, 20-30 Shortland St
* Five-level building demolished May 1989.
* Property has been for sale for some time.
* Plans for $100m 35-level tower never fulfilled.
* Site owned by Korea's Dae Ju.

- NZ Herald

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