Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Fate of council HQ off agenda until shift

The Civic Building has facade and weathertightness issues but is still fit for use. Photo /
Janna Dixon
The Civic Building has facade and weathertightness issues but is still fit for use. Photo / Janna Dixon

The fate of Auckland Council's distinctive 19-level Civic Building beside Aotea Square will not be decided until after the deal for the new premises is completed.

Last month, the council said it would soon announce where it would shift hundreds of staff from the civic headquarters which has a range of problems including weathertightness and facade issues.

Negotiations to buy the ASB Bank Centre on Albert St for around $100 million are understood to be nearing completion.

One party close to the deal said that did not mean the Civic Building was unfit for purpose, just that new premises would better suit the new Super City model.

Just because the older structure failed to meet the current Building Code did not mean it was dangerous, he said. No 1950s tower would meet that, he said, because the code was continually being upgraded.

The council had long-term property needs so it made more sense to buy than lease new headquarters, he said. The focus of those involved in the deal was more on buying the ASB centre than the Civic Building because one had to be secured before the old one's fate was resolved.

Brookfield Funds Management owns the 33,443sq m ASB tower, held in the unlisted A$360 million ($459) Australian-owned Multiplex New Zealand Property Fund.

That block is on a prominent corner on the southwestern end of the central business district and has frontages to Albert, Wellesley and Federal Streets. The building has four levels of basement parking, a large entry foyer and 30 levels of column-free office floorspace.

Services are premium grade, including a full back-up emergency generator, Brookfield said.

About 3500 council staff are in the CBD but around 8000 are spread across the wider city area.

Private multimillionaire family-owned commercial property investor and developer Manson TCLM is understood to be helping some ASB tenants shift by buying shorter-term leases and offering those businesses new leases on other premises.

"They're buying tails-up on leases which is clearing the building out to make way for the council. It's how Manson's are tenanting their buildings," a consultant said.

- NZ Herald

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