Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Wharf rebuff puzzles businessman

Ferry building vacant after AT turns down would-be lessee but then stays away too.

The wharf entrance and retail areas are being refurbished at Devonport.
The wharf entrance and retail areas are being refurbished at Devonport.

Auckland Transport has decided not to set up its offices in the renovated Devonport Ferry Terminal building, leaving a local businessman questioning why he was turned down for a lease.

Greg Edmonds, Auckland Transport chief operations officer, said his staff had planned to move in.

"The area was originally intended to accommodate public transport staff. However, other space became available for them so it is currently vacant. We have had no formal inquiries about use of the space."

However, businessman Greg Shanahan of Technology Investment Network and Klein Medical said his inquiries to the former wharf property boss, about leasing the upstairs area where the Port-O-Call restaurant used to be, resulted in an AT rebuff.

Shanahan said he was told the site was not fit to be tenanted and questioned how the council-controlled organisation could turn others away while considering moving in itself.

"I believe it has since been renovated but I'm not sure if anyone's moved in. I was told at the time that I inquired, by others, that AT wanted to locate themselves there," he said.

Edmonds confirmed AT did consider moving there but hadn't and the area remained empty. He also said AT didn't know anyone else was interested in the space.

"We are unaware of an approach from Mr Shanahan, although that may well have occurred at some point. AT is reviewing whether there is a need for internal use by AT and, if not, we will assess possible lease options," Edmonds said.

The wharf was a key commuter hub and a gateway for residents and visitors to the North Shore, he said.

"We are under way with a $24 million project in the Devonport village area being undertaken by Auckland Transport and/or Auckland Council. Current work on the wharf has been contracted to Downer NZ ($5.5 million)," Edmonds said.

"This is to build a new boardwalk, upgrade Marine Square and refurbish the wharf entrance and retail areas, primarily with a food and beverage focus."

Heritage architects Salmond Reed's building condition report on the wharf building showed it needed repair and refurbishment and the ex-restaurant area upstairs had long-standing leak issues which affected internal furnishings, wall linings and flooring, Edmonds said.

Stage one of repairs were carried out around 2011, pre-Rugby World Cup and that included some structural repairs, interior and exterior painting, refurbishment of toilets and public access ways and other general maintenance. The cost of the work was estimated at $493,000.

Stage two involved minor repairs and other maintenance to the wharf building, including work on the ex-restaurant site.

"This area of 478sq m was vacant at the time of AT's formation in 2010 and since then has been used for ... storage. Part of the work included the removal and demolition of some walls, toilets, kitchen," Edmonds said.

"This was carried out in December 2011 and January 2012. Between January 2013 and September 2013 the area was refurbished at a cost of $402,360.50 and included new bathroom facilities, joinery, ventilation and air conditioning, partitioning, the laying of IT cabling etc."

- NZ Herald

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