A property expert has hit back at plans to convert Beca's Auckland office block into 162 apartments.

Dushko Bogunovich, urban design architecture associate professor at Unitec, challenged Auckland Council's chief planner Roger Blakeley about the job at 132 Vincent St in the CBD.

Blakeley said the project fulfilled the new 30-year intensification strategy but Bogunovich said it would not help achieve a new compact city, as thousands more people arrived in Auckland in the next few years.

The plan by Mike Mahoney, of Tawera Group, is to convert the six-level building which Beca is leaving for 21 Pitt St, into two and three-bedroom apartments.


Larger units are being advertised from $620,000, the job is due to start soon and finish next year and Malaysian and Singaporean investors have bought units there.

But Bogunovich mourned the loss of commercial premises and questioned Blakeley's logic about it improving the city.

"Does he not realise that the conversion leaves the physical density the same as before and keeps roughly the same number of bodies in the CBD as before, only the bodies were there eight hours during day?

"Now they will be there eight hours at night. And that this is yet another sign significant businesses are decentralising rather than compacting in the city?"

Mahoney said publicity had spurred more buyers to inquire about the project.

"We have fielded genuine inquiries from China, Iran, London and at least eight locals," he said.