Changes afoot for historic hotel

By Colin Taylor

The former Fitzroy Hotel building is now being marketed for redevelopment as residential accommodation.

The Fitzroy Hotel at 75 Wakefield St, Auckland.
The Fitzroy Hotel at 75 Wakefield St, Auckland.

Auckland city's oldest surviving hotel building, the Fitzroy Hotel built in 1854-55 on the corner of Wakefield St and Lyndock St, with adjoining car parking in Airedale St, are being marketed for potential redevelopment as a residential accommodation site.

"The Historic Places listed Category 1 building can't be removed from the site but the three level hotel would make an ideal backpackers' or student accommodation conversion," says marketing agent David Savery of NAI Harcourts in West Auckland.

The Historic Places Trust says the former Fitzroy Hotel is one of three hotels from the original colonial core of Auckland believed to have survived from the 1850s and is thought to be the best preserved of them.

"It is considered to be the oldest currently known brick building in the central business district, and reflects Auckland's role as an early brickmaking centre. It is significant as one of a distinctive group of early colonial brick pubs and public houses in the greater Auckland region."

Savery is selling the two sites separately by tender closing on June 27 with an option of a purchaser buying both of them.

"While the hotel property has had a bit of a colourful history given its past usage as a pub and it has been vacant for a couple of years, there has been resource consent granted in the past to develop the site using the existing building, into a 16-storey apartment block," says Savery.

The standalone building at 75-77 Wakefield St sits on 215sq m of land and the parking area at 44 Airedale St, also on the corner of Lyndock, comprises a 238sq m site.

"The combination could easily hold another high rise building while retaining the historic Fitzroy as a lobby with shops and/or restaurant and bars," Savery says.

"It's a beautiful old building that is very much part of Auckland's heritage and has recently been repainted outside and redecorated inside.

"Even remaining as it is, the hotel could be converted into some form of residential accommodation for visiting backpackers or as a boarding house or for university students. It has wooden floors and other features that could be incorporated into smart, character accommodation.

"There are about 3000 people living in the apartment blocks along Wakefield Street close to the University of Auckland, AUT and a number of other colleges and language schools, not to mention the others around the CBD. There is such a shortage of accommodation in Auckland itself that this would be one solution for a new owner who wanted to put explore future development options for the site.

"The two sites could also be redeveloped separately, with the building refurbished and the neighbouring car park title in Airedale street possibly developed into terrace housing."

The car park is currently leased to an adjacent panel beater at $500 per week on a monthly basis

Savery says the owner is a Tahitian businessman who acquired the site some years ago and is now divesting of it concentrate on his core business.

A campaign to turn the Fitzroy into a Category 1 heritage building took about three years until it was listed in 2009.

The Historic Places trust says the Fitzroy Hotel was originally constructed as a three-storied brick building with a slate roof and was located on the fringes of the colonial settlement at a time when Wakefield Street formed the main direct thoroughfare from the CBD to the interior of the Tamaki isthmus.

The building was erected by William Parker, one of the settlement's earliest brickmakers whose family went on to play a significant role in Auckland's timber, tanning and brickmaking industries. Prominently situated on the Symonds Street ridge, it formed the last refreshment stop on the way from town, opening for trade as the Harbour Heights and Family Hotel in late 1856 or early 1857 in spite of opposition from temperance campaigners.

Known from 1859 as the Fitzroy Hotel, the building's subsequent owners included the pioneering New Zealand brewer Richard Seccombe.

The trust says hotel's licence was revoked in 1909 and the building was used as a boarding house during the early twentieth century, and later as a private hotel. From 1954 to 1961 it formed the premises of the Pilgrim Press, founded and run by one of New Zealand's best-known typographers, Robert Lowry who was also resident typographer at the Wakefield Press, which was set up in the building in 1963.

- NZ Herald

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