What could be the country's biggest building do-up is a third of the way through in Auckland's CBD.
AMP NZ Office chief executive Scott Pritchard and operations general manager Peter Walkinshaw said the $76 million job on the 38-level ANZ Centre office block was the largest they knew of.
"This is the first time in Auckland's history that a refurbishment of this size and scale has been undertaken. We're a third of the way through it," said Walkinshaw, in charge of the job by Fletcher Construction and designed by Warren and Mahoney.
Pritchard said the work was significant for its scale and complexity, particularly working with tenants remaining in the building during the reconstruction phase. "It's probably the first landmark tower to be fully refurbished," he said.
Five years ago, the same business embarked on a $77 million refurbishment of the nearby office block at 21 Queen St, now Zurich House, although that job by Fletcher started at the end of the boom and AMP hunted for years for tenants.
The ANZ Centre job is different because that tower is occupied.
The noisy demolition phase of work on the $158.5 million centre is almost completed, the first stage of the two-year job is nearing an end and deconstruction outside will end around May or June.
Fletcher took advantage of the lull around Christmas for some of the loudest work around the ground-floor area of the tower on the corner of Albert, Federal and Swanson Sts.
The controversial demolition of the childcare centre and other ground-floor areas is largely completed and preparation is under way for construction of the new entrance podium at the harbour end of Albert St.
That structure, of around 500sq m, will have about six meeting rooms for the bank and provide a statement entranceway.
Walkinshaw said a new coffee kiosk on the Swanson St side of the tower would be finished by around the middle of this year, landscaping features would be in place then too.
All 31 levels in the stone-clad block are being stripped back to concrete, services are being removed and new chilled beam airconditioning, fire sprinklers, toilets, ceilings, floor coverings and wiring are being installed.
Subterranean levels one to five are carparking, six is the basement, seven is the lobby and eight is the first office floor.
ANZ is paying for the new internal floor fit-outs but working closely with AMP so the job for both clients is being completed by Fletcher.
Walkinshaw said an internal perimeter beam was also being dealt with.
"It's a structural part of the building, a supporting element which we have to work with so we're reducing the visual impact and improving it," he said.
Walkinshaw said seven floors of the ANZ Centre were now empty and work was underway on levels nine to 13, 18 and 19. As work begins, tenants shift from one part of the tower to another but Pritchard said three businesses were going to other properties owned by the company.
Recruitment specialists OCG shifted to the AMP Centre on the corner of Albert St and Customs St West, NZ Funds Management went to Zurich House and lawyers Lowndes Jordan will go to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Tower on Quay St.
Once the work on the tower is finished, the major tenants will be ANZ on 21 floors, Mighty River Power, Chapman Tripp, Vero Liability Insurance and First NZ Capital.
Pritchard said AMP was now on the acquisition trail, seeking either a prime office block or a development site.
"We have built before," he said, citing PWC Tower, work in Wellington and the redevelopment of Zurich House.
"We have the capacity to do this," he said, referring to gearing which stands at just 22 per cent when banking covenants would allow for borrowing a sum equivalent to 50 per cent of assets, although he said the business would be more comfortable around the 30 per cent mark.
The company, with a $1.2 billion portfolio, is due to finish work on ANZ Centre by the middle of next year.
THE BIG DO-UP
* ANZ Centre owned by AMP NZ Office.
* Tower being stripped out, done up.
* Refurbishment work worth $76m.
* Architect Warren and Mahoney.
* Builders Fletcher Construction.
* Due to be finished mid-2013.