Tavern for thirsty buyers

By Colin Taylor

The Masonic Tavern in Devonport has uninterrupted views across the Waitemata Harbour towards Auckland's CBD and eastern suburbs.
The Masonic Tavern in Devonport has uninterrupted views across the Waitemata Harbour towards Auckland's CBD and eastern suburbs.

Plenty of options for long-term investors, business operators or developers.

Devonport's landmark Masonic Tavern, which dates back to the 19th century, is up for sale offering a new owner a variety of future options.

Located on a 2260sq m site overlooking the waterfront at 29 King Edward Parade, the 944sq m building is being offered by tender through Stuart Bode and Jan Hewitt of Bayleys Auckland, and Christina Heaven of Bayleys North Shore Commercial. Tenders for the property, which is featured in Bayleys' latest Total Property portfolio, close on June 13 unless it is sold before that date.

Bode says the property is available for purchase either with vacant possession, as a freehold going concern including both the property and the tavern business, or with a short-term lease to the present tavern operator and owner of the property

"Peter Thwaites and his family have been running the Masonic Tavern for over 20 years and are selling to pursue other interests," says Bode.

"However, Peter is happy to negotiate a lease back for a limited period of time while a new owner formulates future plans for the property."

Bode says a new owner could continue to run the property as a tavern, convert the existing buildings to some other use allowed by the current zoning, or activate a resource consent that was granted by the Environment Court in May last year. This consent provides for the existing building to be modified and for 10 apartments and a cafe to be created, with associated basement parking.

Bode says the property is expected to appeal to long-term investors, perhaps with an interest in historic buildings, business operators or developers. "This offering represents a rare opportunity to obtain an iconic piece of historic Devonport in a prime waterfront location and we are expecting plenty of interest in it from a wide variety of parties." Noted architectural firm Jasmax has drawn up plans for the residential redevelopment, which incorporate elements of the existing building and form part of the resource consent which lapses on May 31, 2016. Due to the historic significance of the site an authority for earthworks is also required, says Bode. This was granted by the Historic Places Trust in July 2011 and lapses in July 2016.

The two-storeyed tavern is located on the corner of King Edward Parade and Church St and has uninterrupted views across the Waitemata Harbour towards Auckland's CBD and eastern suburbs. The property is situated about 750m from the commercial heart of Devonport and is surrounded by a mix of retail and hospitality businesses plus residential homes. King Edward Parade, which runs along the southern inner-harbour shoreline of Devonport, is a main arterial route from the heart of the commercial centre to the seaside suburb of Cheltenham.

The property comprises an historic two-storey weatherboard tavern and a more modern addition in front, which was completed in the 1960s and previously operated as a wholesale outlet. The 582sq m ground floor consists of the main bar and associated amenities, plus kitchen. The first floor upstairs contains another bar and associated amenities plus an office and self-contained three-bedroom flat and has a total area of 355sq m.

The bars are located to the front of the building with extensive glass on the southern and eastern walls providing unobstructed views of the inner harbour, plus North Head.

The Masonic Hotel dates back to the 1860s when an 11-room dwelling was built to attract visitors and holiday makers to the seaside destination of East Devonport. A series of alterations and additions were made to the hotel in the 1880s and parts of these are thought to still be present on the site.

The hotel became a centre for entertainment, civic functions and other meetings. It is believed to be the birth place of some of the oldest clubs and local bodies in the country, including: the North Shore Rugby Football Club (1873), the North Shore Cricket Club (1860s), the Takapuna Jockey Club (1881), the Devonport Rowing Club (1874), the Devonport Yacht Club (1905) and the Flagstaff Highway Board (1886) - which went on to become the Devonport Borough Council. Romeo Bragato, a pioneer of the New Zealand wine industry, owned the Masonic for several years in the early 1900s and subsequent owners have included DB Breweries. With the extension of the licensing hours in 1967 it became the Masonic Tavern and no longer provided accommodation. Under the Thwaites' ownership the tavern has been the launch pad for a variety of local bands.

The land comprises two titles: one of 1938sq m which contains the tavern buildings, and the other a 322sq m site which is currently used for car parking. The larger of the two sites is zoned Business 1, designed to cater for small- to medium-scale local businesses near residential zones. A wide range of activities is provided for in the zoning including retail, office and warehousing. The smaller title is zoned Residential 3A which is a built heritage area in Devonport.

The site has undergone extensive excavation to achieve a level building and parking platform with the result that there are extensive retaining walls along the western and northern boundaries.

These range in height from approximately 6m through to 8m and comprise a natural stone cliff and manmade retaining walls.

- NZ Herald

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