City site ideal for development as student accommodation

By Colin Taylor

This vacant city centre site (bordered in red) is on the market.
This vacant city centre site (bordered in red) is on the market.

Barfoot & Thompson Commercial has been exclusively appointed by Auckland Council Property Limited to market for sale of 3072 sq m of vacant development land at 35 Whitaker Place on the eastern perimeter of the Auckland Central Business District.

"The property comprises a valuable holding," says Cam Paterson, commercial broker with Barfoot & Thompson Commercial who, with colleague John Stringer, is marketing it for sale by tender closing at 4pm on Thursday, June 12.

"It is prime vacant development site situated in the heart of existing student accommodation buildings," Paterson says. "Given its closeness to the CBD and university it is ideally situated to cater for residential and student accommodation demand."

The site is vacant and covered in vegetation and is on the eastern side of Whitaker Place with the turning point for the street adjacent to the southern end of the site. It is bounded by Whitaker Place to the west, properties to the north and south, and State Highway 16 to the east.

Whitaker Place is a no exit street off Symonds St, a short walk from the CBD, University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Auckland Hospital.

The relatively narrow elongated site is 18 metres at its narrowest point near the middle of the site.

The southwestern boundary is widest end of the site at about 37 metres. The frontage to Whitaker Place is 104m.

Stringer says Auckland Council Property Limited (ACPL) commissioned Architectus in March 2014 to undertake a preliminary bulk and location study for the site.

"The study examined two possible developments, either student accommodation or commercial office space for the site which provided between 13,000 sq m to 15,000 sq m of gross floor area plus car parking across two buildings," Stringer says.

Building A, as a 276-room student facility with a gross floor area of 6846 sq m, would comprise 12 floors of dormitory and one floor of amenities plus three floors of car parking occupying 1870 sq m.

Building B, with a 6006 sq m gross floor area, was envisaged as having 12 floors of dormitory containing 216 rooms and two floors of amenities.

"In total they would have 12,852 sq m of gross floor area and parking for around 75 cars," Stringer says.

Alternatively, concepts for two 13 level commercial office buildings visualised a gross floor area of 15,353 with the same area for car parking.

"Architectus has advised these are preliminary concepts only and that the gross floor area for a residential scheme or modified student accommodation scheme could be similar to the office scheme," Stringer says. "However, prospective purchasers would be advised to make their own inquiries in this regard."

The University of Auckland is only 500 metres from Whitaker Place and had 32,000 enrolled students as of 2012. AUT is nearby in Wellesley St with 26,243 students enrolled over its three campuses.

"Both of these tertiary education providers create strong demand for accommodation in the area with Whitaker Place viewed as a convenient and popular location for students," Stringer says.

"There are a number of student accommodation blocks and residential apartment buildings in the area ranging between two storeys and 17 storey, with the ground level typically occupied by small convenience retail shops including cafe and food outlets. Directly in front of the site on Whitaker Place are 15-20 pay and display parking spaces."

Stringer says the site is included in the Auckland Council Central Area Operative Plan zoned Residential Precinct (Area 1) and contained within Strategic Management Area 5.

Permitted activities include accommodation, education providers and retail outlets.

- NZ Herald

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