Landmark Mt Eden opportunity

By Colin Taylor

The Mt Eden building is placed on the corner of 151-161 Mount Eden Rd and Esplanade Rd.
The Mt Eden building is placed on the corner of 151-161 Mount Eden Rd and Esplanade Rd.

A landmark mixed-use Mt Eden property that has occupied a prominent corner position on Mt Eden Rd for more than a century is on the market after undergoing a major reconstruction and refurbishment.

The 1008sq m building at 151-161 Mount Eden Rd is earning net annual income of about $297,000 and is one of the larger properties being featured for auction in Bayleys' latest Total Property Portfolio.

Marketed by James Chan and Matt Lee of Bayleys Auckland, it will go under the hammer on April 9 unless it sells beforehand.

Dating back to the early 1900s, the property on the corner with Esplanade Rd was substantially rebuilt and renovated in 2012. A portion of the building was demolished and four new retail units, with two residential apartments above, were constructed.

The original part of the building on the corner, which operated as Woods Grocery store for many decades, was also restored, refurbished and reconfigured as part of the redevelopment.

Auckland Council's principal heritage advisor, George Farrant, in 2012 described the redevelopment as a very exciting project.

"Hopefully the usually negative press coverage on suburban heritage will eventually cotton on to this marvellously positive restoration and adaptation," Farrant said.

Chan says the rebuild and refurbishment, undertaken by Silk Construction, has been done to a high standard in keeping with the original character of the building but with modern interior fit-outs to provide tenants with "as new" premises.

"The current owner has chosen to restore this key icon of Mt Eden, at considerable additional cost, rather than to demolish and rebuild over the entire site as he could have done under the demolition permit."

The restoration of the original Woods corner store part of the building, which dates back to the early 20th century, was made more complex because of a rise of up to 500mm over time of the surrounding footpaths, burying the lower walls and causing decay. Because of the building's subsidence it had to be jacked up to bring it to a level footing.

An over-footpath canopy had to be demolished because of advanced decay and vehicle impacts but has been replaced with a new structure which better matches the original detail of the building, including its ornate veranda posts. A footpath upgrade has included an extension to the kerb line around the corner of the site to avoid future truck damage to the building.

The building has also been reroofed and repainted to better blend in with the greenery of the surrounding residential neighbourhood and match the original colours which were a dark green on trims and a light clay colour on the general weatherboarding.

"The new building work undertaken at the rear of the property along both street frontages has replaced ugly, run down extensions to the Woods building that had been added over the years on an ad hoc basis," says Chan. "The replacement buildings have been designed to match the scale, detail and look of the original building as much as possible."

As a result of the redevelopment, the property now has six ground retail tenancies totalling 516sq m, with a range of new lease terms producing net annual rental income of $208,389 plus GST.

Three residential tenancies above encompass an area of 492sq m and provide gross annual income of $113,360.

The prime corner street level tenancy is occupied by a Pita Pit outlet, part of the global healthy food takeaway chain, on a 10-year lease, while other retail tenants include Discount Protein Supplements, the Ancient Mariner fish-and-chip outlet, Lovich Flooring, a pharmacy and a dairy.

The building is positioned on two separate titles totalling 966sq m at the Auckland CBD end of Mt Eden Rd, close to major arterials and motorway networks and a short walk from the Mount Eden train station. Eleven on-site car parks are at the rear of the building off Esplanade Rd.

Lee says the property is within the Auckland Grammar school zone which makes it a sought-after location for residential tenants.

He says the spacious residential dwellings are suitable for family occupation and comprise two 4-bedroom apartments of 163sq m and 219sq m (including balconies) and one 109sq m 2-bedroom unit.

"The attractiveness of this location is largely based on its closeness to high-quality parts of Mt Eden, including the village and summit, the sought-after suburb of Epsom and Auckland's CBD," Lee says. "From a retailer's point of view it benefits from the high volume of traffic travelling along Mt Eden Rd and its high exposure corner position."

The high-profile nature of the property in an expanding residential suburb is also what prompted grocer Henry Woods to buy the site in July 1906 for 350 and he set about expanding and enlarging an existing store on the property.

In 1925, Woods was the first chairman for Foodstuffs Ltd, owners of the 4 Square chain of stores. His son Edward, who took over the Mt Eden store from his father with his brother George, also became a chairman of Foodstuffs for a period.

The building remained in Woods family ownership until 1971. It has been used for various retail purposes over the years, including a restaurant.

- NZ Herald

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