The X Gallery being created within Auckland's classical 100-year-old former Contemporary Art Gallery is looking for top-end retailers to take out space within its walls when it is completed late next year.
"Prominently situated on the corners of Lorne St, Khartoum Place and Wellesley Street East, X Gallery will undergo a significant rejuvenation positioned to entice high-end retailers," says Kate Narro from Jones Lang LaSalle, who is marketing the properties for lease with Millie Liang of Bayleys on behalf of Wilco Investments Ltd.
"One of the city's best known CBD heritage buildings, the former gallery is set to undergo a transformation that embraces early 20th century architectural excellence with a modern, chic atmosphere. X Gallery will offer fabulous retail and gallery spaces in addition to high-stud character office space," Narro says.
"The building will be redeveloped into 11 retail units ranging in size from 24sq m to 125sq m with a basement level of 340sq m and will alleviate a latent demand for distinctive, destination, top-end retail space in Auckland's CBD."
Narro, who recently brokered the lease of a well-known coffee operator to open a flagship store at the site, says the building is an attractive option for retailers looking for a competitive edge. "The combination of heritage roots with modern-day sophistication will engender a creative ambience. We expect retailers, who appreciate architectural features and design direction, will be drawn to the premises along with other leading potential tenants like creative retailers, designers and members of the hospitality industry.
"Retailers look for premises that are destination locations and stand-out buildings with excellent architectural merits to provide a special attraction that can be very advantageous in promoting products and services."
Narro believes an upscale heritage building fulfilling the requirements of modern-day retailing requirements will be "unique to this location" and will generate significant interest.
Auckland Council is also about to begin a major streetscape refurbishment, which will include repaving, new stairs, new street furniture and plantings. These works are scheduled to finish at the same time as the renovations to the building.
Liang, a retail broker at Bayleys, says X Gallery's location in a prominent CBD area will enhance its attraction.
"The shops available are situated at the corner of Wellesley Street and Lorne Street, less than 100m from the major Queen Street and Wellesley Street intersection. The northern side of the building fronts Khartoum Place, a pedestrian legal road with steps leading up to the more elevated Kitchener Street," says Liang.
"The property is opposite the main Auckland City Art Gallery and a stone's throw from Albert Park, adjacent to the main City education precinct and Central Library and is close to The Edge entertainment precinct based around the Civic Theatre, Metro Centre and Aotea Centre.
"With all of these complementary public, educational and entertainment services, I am sure retailers will quickly see the potential of this location that draws on a significant current and future population catchment. It is located in the middle of a sizeable residential apartment population and is surrounded by educational and entertainment facilities."
A one-day pedestrian count undertaken on Wednesday, October 17, recorded 16,526 people passing the building, either on the corner of Khartoum Place and Lorne St or along Wellesley St.
Liang says rents starting from $55,000 per annum will also provide an attractive entry point for high-end retailers.
She says Auckland's retail statistics show a 4.6 per cent growth in the June 2012 quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago.
Liang says X Gallery will comprise "a hub of new retailers supported by a growing and discerning consumer base that is willing to spend money for the right products and services in a fabulous retail environment".