Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Takapuna council staff move to city centre

Council staff will be moved from the Takapuna Service Centre to 135 Albert St. Photo / Richard Robinson
Council staff will be moved from the Takapuna Service Centre to 135 Albert St. Photo / Richard Robinson

Auckland Council is planning to move many of its 705 Takapuna-based staff to the central business district when the suburban building's lease expires.

Doug McKay, council chief executive, said the $104 million purchase of 135 Albert St - currently ASB Bank headquarters - would enable staff from many different buildings and locations to work under one roof.

That tower had the capacity to accommodate 2400 staff including part of the Takapuna workforce, he said.

"Takapuna would retain a service centre and local board function," said a report on the new council accommodation needs authorised by McKay and written by council executive officer Michael Quinn.

"Relocation of half the staff has been modelled. This could potentially increase, following the outcome of the workplace strategy," the report said.

The Takapuna lease is due to expire around 2022 and staff from elsewhere will begin moving to 135 Albert St around 2014.

Chris Darby, Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman, is concerned, saying the Takapuna council office is important to the suburban economy.

The building at 1 The Strand has the capacity for 808 people but some areas are being refurbished and 705 people now work there.

"The recently purchased ASB tower has capacity for just 2400 of council's 6000 employees," Darby said.

"That sees regional service centres like Takapuna, where 705 staff currently work, play an important role in the overall accommodation mix," he said.

"Takapuna is a market attractive metropolitan centre on the cusp of transformation with an environ that proves a magnet for workers."

North Shore City Council had made a considerable investment in consolidating staff under one roof in 2008, Darby said.

"It makes no sense to abandon that investment and risk losing valuable staff," he said.

"Council's Takapuna office is an anchor business in the Shore economy and I don't see that changing anytime soon," he said.

"The satellite Takapuna office complements the 135 Albert St site by providing the critical resilience necessary of an organisation that provides a myriad of essential services to Auckland's 1.5 million people."

Peter White of the Takapuna Beach Business Association also has concerns but said he did not want to be involved "in a doom and gloom story" for a suburb with an extremely bright future.

Ludo Campbell-Reid of Auckland Council criticised Takapuna's main shopping street, Hurstmere Rd, at the Property Council's retail conference last week, saying trees on footpaths blocked retail displays, canopies were further visual barriers and made the footpaths dark and cold.

"Takapuna has turned its back to the water and that area is used for carparks and a service area," he said.

But he praised White and Dave Donaldson's The Department Store, saying they had enthusiasm for the area.

"Hurstmere Rd is a bit of a mess, dark, dreary, all under canopies," Campbell-Reid.

"Move the trees away from the edges of footpaths and into the middle of the street.

"How about we have people living above shops? How about we see logos and designs?"

Developer investors Wiltshire Group will soon open its $11 million McKenzies restaurant, bar and shop precinct on Hurstmere Rd and John Copson plans to rebuild on a number of sites at the other end of the street. Both projects face the waterfront.

ON THE MOVE
* 2400 council staff going to 135 Albert St.
* 299 car parks in basement.
* 32,767sq m lettable area.
* Move begins 2014.
* Council's Graham St building and Bledisloe House retained.
* 560 staff leaving Civic Building.
* 360 Queen St and Hereford St building also to be shed.
* Options for the Civic Building to be presented by December.
* Other CBD/Takapuna premises to be shed.

[Source: Auckland Council Corporate Accommodation report by Michael Quinn]

- NZ Herald

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