Landmark Methodist chapel sold

By Simon Collins

The Methodist Mission has sold its landmark Aotea Chapel and surrounding buildings opposite the Auckland Town Hall, leaving it without a presence on Queen St for the first time in 150 years.

The church has owned the core of the site on the corner of Queen St and Wakefield St since Governor George Grey gifted it in 1851.

The buildings being sold include the chapel, the adjoining Airedale St soup kitchen, the cross-topped office block on the street corner, a next-door office block at 3 Wakefield St and an adjoining carpark.

The buyer is Prince Corporation, an Auckland-based company that has been involved in developments in North Shore and Rodney and is developing a residential project at Kingseat, south of Auckland. The company is owned by Dong Ho (Danny) Chung and three members of his family, who all live in Browns Bay.

The sale price is confidential but is more than the last Quotable Value valuation of $25 million.

The mission had hoped to sell only the lease on the property but decided to sell it freehold after the lease failed to sell at auction last October.

Methodist Mission Northern executive director John Murray said it had been a difficult choice, given that the site had strong sentimental value, but he believed it existed to support the mission's services and generate income.

"We certainly got the price that we wanted and he was prepared to pay. We are well pleased," he said.

Mr Murray said last year that the mission gave the issue "heart-searching" thought, but decided that it could not afford to upgrade the buildings to modern standards.

It will use the proceeds from the sale to extend its social services beyond the core group of homeless men who are the main users of the existing soup kitchen.

"We can deal with issues relating to youth and women," he said.

Mr Murray said the mission's lease would expire on July 31, 2010.

"Over the next two years the organisation will plan where and how the core services that operate within these facilities will be relocated from mid-2010," he said.

The terms of the sale no longer require maintenance of a chapel somewhere on the site.

- NZ Herald

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