A former Shortland Street star and pop musician, who is now an Auckland property manager, has bought the "soul" of the K Rd community - St Kevin's Arcade.
Paul Reid, who initially hit the limelight when he played troubled teen Marshall Heywood on Shortland Street from 2001 to 2004 and was a member of pop punk band Rubicon, is now the owner of an Auckland property management company IconiCity.
Mr Reid said he was passionate about St Kevin's arcade, and hoped to restore it.
The Herald understands he is part of a group that has bought the arcade - a 91-year-old space at 183 Karangahape Rd, which overlooks Myers Park and the city, and houses an eclectic mix of bars, eateries, and boutique shops.
Rumours of the sale of the arcade, which was given a capital value of $7.8 million by Auckland Council in July last year, were rife on social media yesterday - with talk of it being re-developed into an upmarket foodcourt, like Ponsonby Central, signifying the gentrification of K Rd.
Many took to Twitter to share their disbelief, with Paula Koruni? writing "Please let the Rubicon/St Kevin's Arcade rumour be the result of someone's warped sense of humour," and K'Rd Tweets ?writing "Big news on the street today is that Marshall from Shortland St/'that guy from Rubicon' has bought St Kevin's Arcade."
On the arcade's Facebook page, a post written last night read "It appears that the not so secret [has] come into fruition. 'We' - the Arcade, have been sold. The deposit paid, the architects called in, this could be some fantastic news ensuring the Arcade remains the jewel in Auckland for many more future generations."
Yesterday Mr Reid told the Herald his plan was to carefully restore the building, while "maintaining its relevance and within K Rd's cultural landscape."
"Like many Aucklanders who have formed a relationship with St Kevin's Arcade, I'm passionate about this building," he said.
"My vision for St Kevin's Arcade is to celebrate its beauty and curate an environment where Auckland's creative talent can thrive.
"This is about the preservation of an iconic piece of Auckland's architecture and an essential component of Auckland's retail fabric."
He said it was still early days, so there was "nothing formal" to say about his purchase of the property.
The Herald understands a deposit has been made and the sale is due to go through in August, but when asked, current owner Murray Rose simply wrote "Dear Susan. No comment."
St Kevin's arcade was built in 1924 and is classed as a category b historic building under both the Auckland Council's district plan and the proposed unitary plan - meaning any major changes would require a consent.
No consents have been applied for or granted.
The Herald understands a number of the arcade's tenants are on short-term leases, and there is anxiety about the future of businesses.
But Mr Reid said he hoped to meet with them to discuss any future changes to the space.
Long-term tenants include Alleluya cafe, which has been in the arcade for around 20 years, Whammy Bar, and The Wine Cellar - which celebrated its 11th birthday earlier this month.
K Road Business Association head Barbara Holloway said the arcade was thought of as the soul of K Rd.
"We all feel a great love and attachment to it," she said.
Ms Holloway said gentrification was already something the area was facing, and the sale of the arcade wasn't any different to other developments on the road, which became known as Auckland's red light district in the 1970s.
"K Rd still has cheap rent and a lot of alternative businesses. It's still an area where students and artists and musicians congregate, and we all still know each other.
"Its just an amazing, awesome place. I don't think the sale of St Kevin's Arcade is going to change that."