Towering opportunities await in CBD

By Colin Taylor

City redevelopment unleashes two desirable accommodation possibilities

396 Queen St
396 Queen St

Two Auckland city tower blocks are the subject of new commercial property marketing campaigns with both related to significant proposed CBD redevelopments.

The first proposition involves the 19-level blue reflective glass office tower completed in 1989 at 396 Queen St. It retained the facade of the old Queens Head Tavern and the new building was constructed above and behind.

Colin McKenna and Robert Platt, of Bayleys Real Estate's Auckland office, are selling by tender closing at 4pm on Thursday, August 8, a freehold interest in levels 4 to 19 of the tower block to be subdivided on their own freehold titles.

"The 15 contiguous floors comprise a net lettable floor area of 8359.6sq m and sit above the podium levels, which will be refurbished to provide top-quality retail tenancies," says McKenna.

"The tower floors divide efficiently around central core services incorporating four lifts, toilets and a stairwell, and are ideal for conversion to apartments, hotel rooms or student hostel accommodation."

The property is on the eastern side of Queen St at an intersection with Mayoral Drive close to the heart of Auckland's CBD and the lift motor room on the roof has faces available for signs.

McKenna says the modern, reinforced concrete building has an Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP) of 219.8 per cent of New Building Standard (NBS) or an A-plus seismic rating.

"It provides good quality B-grade office accommodation with excellent natural light to all floors, due to the building's standalone position and the shape of the individual floors and three surrounding street frontages," he says. "The building features commanding city and harbour views from the upper floors with lower level views ranging from CBD outlooks to elevated view shafts of the harbour and wider city views."

Platt says 396 Queen St has typical floor plates from levels 4-17 of 571.42sq m each, totalling 7428.46sq m. "Level 18 is 466.61sq m with a terrace of 34.72sq m while level 19 is 366.22sq m and has a terrace of 63.59sq m."

A total of 55 on-site car parks will be attached to the main title for the refurbished levels 4-19.

"The main access from the foyer adjacent to the Mayoral Drive frontage will be reconfigured during the construction of the retail tenancies so the main access to the tower floors will be directly off Queen St," Platt says. Vehicle access is also provided from Airedale St to two basement car park levels.

The office levels have ducted air-conditioning and are equipped with fire sprinklers. Their interior finishes generally comprise carpeted floors, suspended ceilings with plaster tiles and recessed fluorescent lighting with diffuser panels. Security systems monitor the stairwells, basement car parks and the lifts.

Platt says the building is within the council's Core Strategic Management Area 1, which encompasses the core of the Auckland CBD within an area bounded by Customs St to the north, Hobson St to the west, Albert Park to the east and Mayoral Drive to the south.

"The objective of this zoning is to maintain the highest intensity of activity in the central area emphasising commercial, entertainment, recreational, cultural, educational, retail, residential and tourist activities in order to ensure the continuation of the central area as the principal business and commercial centre of the Auckland region," Platt says.

"The building is directly opposite the Town Hall and the Aotea Centre within a locality referred to as the Aotea Quarter bounded by Mayoral Drive, Wellesley St, Lorne St, and Khartoum Place. This is the city's civic, cultural, arts and entertainment centre, which includes the Auckland Art Gallery, the Central City Library, Aotea Square, the Auckland Town Hall, Aotea Centre, Civic Theatre and Auckland City Council administrative offices."

Platt says the potential of 396 Queen St for accommodation is emphasised by its closeness to Auckland University and the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

Several tertiary educational facilities provided courses for domestic and international students and the Auckland council had found the education sector was the leading occupier of floor space in the CBD. Bayleys Research surveys also show the education sector having grown to an occupation area of about 150,000sq m.

Platt and McKenna are also the sole agents for the second inner-city building at 51-53 Albert St, which is for sale by deadline private treaty closing at 4 pm on Wednesday, August 7, unless sold prior.

"This well-located property comprises a three-level character building constructed on the western side of Albert St around 1910-20," McKenna says. "Retail space on the ground level at Albert St is vacant and more than 1290sq m of car parking for 40 vehicles on the upper two levels is accessed from the back of the building facing west in St Patrick's Square.

"The rare opportunity being offered is for the development of a high profile major residential tower in downtown Auckland on the site. Resource consent has been granted for the development of a 46-storey tower, including 15 mezzanine levels, 150 apartments and 95 car parking spaces. Additional features include consent for a swimming pool, gym, restaurant, cafes and a function room."

McKenna said the consent was granted in February 2009 and expired on February 17, 2014, with an application lodged for extension of the consent for another two years.

Platt says the building with a total gross floor area of about 1935sq m is in a superb position in the heart of the CBD and overlooking Waitemata Harbour.

"The resource consent incorporates an active frontage with access from Albert Street and St Patrick's Square along with a public pedestrian link from Albert St to St Patrick's Square."

The concrete building has timber upper floors and metal roof and covers the entire rectangular freehold site of 645sq m with ground level retail space of 577.4sq m extending 16.5 metres along Albert St and St Patrick's Square with a depth of about 38.5 metres.

In addition, development plans for an adjacent property at 55 Albert St have been transferred to 51-53 Albert St giving the proposed tower block unobstructed views to the south above Level 2 and from the east at front and the west at the rear.

"The owner of 51-53 Albert St retains all the development rights that the owner of 55 Albert St may have had or may have in the future," Platt says.

The property to the immediate north is the Prince Albert Apartments with the proposed tower block rising above that complex at about Level 7.

Total annual current holding income is about $109,000 plus GST derived solely from Wilson Parking, which leases the upper two floors and provides car parking facilities. "This tenancy expires on November 30, 2016, but is subject to a demolition clause providing for vacating the property within three months of written notice being given," Platt says.

The property is zoned Residential Precinct Area 2 within Strategic Management Area 1 (SMA1) under the Auckland Council District Plan specifically provides for the most intensive concentration of commerce, entertainment and retailing activities and development.

"This zoning allows investment in buildings, infrastructure, community facilities, public spaces, services and landscaping," Platt says. "It contains the largest concentration of high-rise buildings in the city."

- NZ Herald

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