A stellar site where the Star once stood

By Colin Taylor

The empty space is now used as a carpark, but it is surrounded by some of Auckland's most valuable real estate. Photo / Supplied
The empty space is now used as a carpark, but it is surrounded by some of Auckland's most valuable real estate. Photo / Supplied

The long-vacant site of the former Auckland Star building at 28 Shortland St in the heart of downtown Auckland is finally being marketed for sale and development as the perfect position for "the ultimate spec building".

The Star building was demolished years ago and the cleared vacant 2010sq m site, opposite the intersection with High St and a short distance from Queen St, has been occupied by a car parking operation.

"There is an existing resource consent for a 26 level building with 171 car parks," said Greg Clarke of Barfoot & Thompson Commercial who is offering the property for sale by initial expressions of interest, closing on June 6.

"A purchaser could decide to build on the site straight away, or they could land-bank the property with a view to future development and have the benefit of a substantial income from the current car parking operation.

"The Auckland Star newspaper and building are long gone, but there's no doubt this is Auckland city's stellar building site."

Clarke said Shortland St was at the at heart of the Auckland CBD and the roll call of businesses that have offices there was impressive.

"Global giants AIG, Deloitte, WHK, Lumley, Vero, law firms Simpson Grierson and Bell Gully and the Bank of New Zealand all demonstrate that this is the place for corporates and businesses to be.

"And the names of the owners of Shortland St buildings read like a who's who of property ownership, including AMP Capital Property, Kiwi Property Holdings, Robt Jones Holdings and Perpetual Trustees."

There had been previous proposals for tower developments for apartments and offices on the site, including a mixture of both.

"In many ways it is fortunate that those developments did not proceed as the market has reached a point where the supply of premium space is at low level, while demand continues to increase," he said.

"The expression 'once in a lifetime opportunity' is an overused phrase, but in regards to this site, it is appropriate.

"Once a tower building is constructed on this site, it will not be pulled down in our lifetime. It really is a one-off chance to create a legacy and to erect a building that will be a landmark for the city for generations. There is simply nothing that can compare with this building site."

The freehold land also has a frontage on Fort St on a lower level than Shortland St, giving more flexibility of use.

"A building here would have a viewing path down Commerce St directly to the waterfront so the outlook from all levels would be impressive," Clarke said.

He said central Auckland was still mainly dominated by buildings built more than 30 years ago.

"The methods of construction, materials and the technology within the buildings have changed dramatically over that time.

"Responsible businesses are increasingly requiring the properties they occupy to meet the highest codes in regard to seismic integrity.

"While measures can be taken to strengthen older buildings, there can be no argument that a new build to the highest specifications is always a far better option than a compromise solution."

He said securing a suitable site to construct a new building had always been a challenge for developers, particularly in the heart of the city.

"Even where demand does justify the effort and expense, many of Auckland's buildings, while not being protected by historic classification, still have a level of heritage that makes demolition a long and arduous process. In addition there may be leases to terminate and access issues to address."

Clarke said three of a limited number of premium buildings in the Auckland CBD were on Shortland St. "And sitting among them is this vacant site ready for a new icon to rise on it."

He said Auckland's population was predicted to grow from 1.4 million to more than two million within the next 17 years.

"While there has been a lot of focus on where all these people will be housed, it is just as important to ask, 'Where will they work?'."

- NZ Herald

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