Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Hotel, apartment ideas probed for Civic Building

The Auckland Council's former headquarters at the Civic Building will soon be empty. Photo / Neville Marriner
The Auckland Council's former headquarters at the Civic Building will soon be empty. Photo / Neville Marriner

Auckland Council's Civic Building, which contains asbestos, could become a hotel or apartments and its ground-floor be converted into shops.

Real estate consultancy JLL has been appointed to investigate options for the huge Greys Ave building on Aotea Square, talking to property investors and developers about the future of the huge old block.

JLL consultant Sarah Dominey and national research director Justin Kean said the location had the potential for continued office use, a hotel and residential conversion but it has potential for retail, leisure, arts and education too.

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Kean emphasised said plans must take account of the asbestos.

"Most of the asbestos is in the exterior of the north and south walls - 350 tonne of it was removed from the building by council in 1989 but that was in the accessible interior and to get to the next part is harder. If you're refurbishing the building, getting rid of the asbestos is part and parcel of that. You would have to consider the asbestos in terms of the demolition," he said.

Two years ago, council chief executive Doug McKay said the building housed 450 staff and the $93 million cost of refurbishment was not economic for the council.

Demolition was an option and the building was not listed as a heritage structure, he said, but had architectural merit.

CIVIC BUILDING

• 14,300sq m office building
• opened 1966
• three basement levels
• 18 above-ground levels
• 453sq m gross rectangular floor plates
• JLL seeking expressions of interest
[Source: JLL]

Architect Julia Gatley said at the time that the building was the city's tallest at 19 storeys when it opened in 1966, was a beautifully proportioned, slender building that encapsulated modernism.

A report on the scale of problems plaguing the building included an estimated cost of $10 million demolition cost.

Kean said the site was worth far more than that, it couldn't be built out and had incredible views.

The council has almost finished shifting staff into new premises it bought for $104 million at 135 Albert Street.

Arch Hill residents upset at plans for a Bunnings Warehouse in their neighbourhood protest outside the Civic Building last year. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Arch Hill residents upset at plans for a Bunnings Warehouse in their neighbourhood protest outside the Civic Building last year. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"As a result, the Civic Administration Building at 1 Greys Avenue in Auckland will be empty by the end of 2014 and steps are now being put in place to explore options for the building and its surrounds," JLL said.

Auckland Council Property appointed JLL to manage a consultation process designed to gauge the level of interest in the building and understand market opinion about potential options.

"ACPL's objective is to establish realistic market-driven options for the building and site and ascertain what needs to happen to make the best possible outcome a reality. This is a unique asset that could continue to serve the city long after the council moves out," Dominey said.

JLL wants to talk to "significant" property developers and investors who could add value to the building and site and understand where they see an asset like this in the future of Auckland, she said.

Kean said JLL's aim was to provide the council with options to enhance and complement objectives for the overall Aotea precinct.

"We are looking for compatible future use outcomes that leverage off the arts, civic and entertainment nature of the precinct," he said.

Read the JLL release here:

- NZ Herald

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