A $650 million new office block project is rising a block from Auckland's waterfront in New Zealand's largest newly-announced commercial construction project.
Culum Manson of Mansons TCLM said despite predictions of falling demand for new offices, so many tenants had contacted the family business that the 15-level project began without leasing any pre-commitment due to the firm's confidence about signing leases well before construction completion.
Mansons bought a new $1m-plus eight-storey Australian crane and erected that at Fifty Albert last month to work on the 28,873sq m office block which would be finished by late 2023/early 2024.
For 152 years, the New Zealand Herald occupied the Queen/Wyndham/Swanson/Albert St block and in 2015 it left Manson's site for NZME Central, 2 Graham St, the new BDO House also built by Mansons. That building is now owned by an ex-Augusta Capital now-Centuria Capital-run syndicate.
Culum Manson said other features of the new Fifty Albert would be:
• quarter-hectare floor plates of 2300sq m;
• around 3000 people to work on 12 office floors;
• 637sq m ground-floor retail;
• 206 carparks in three basement levels sleeved into sloping site;
• Albert St main reception, Mills Lane frontage too;
• Ten 1800kg lifts to run at 3.5m/second and one goods lift;
• 3m internal stud heights;
• targeting 6 star world leadership green star rating;
• naming rights for sale.
Chris Dibble of Colliers International said a $650m project was the largest of its kind.
Zoltan Moricz of CBRE said: "Of the currently-under way office projects, it's the biggest in New Zealand. There are bigger existing buildings though such as Commercial Bay, Vero and a few more all above 30,000sq m."
Chris Haines of consultants Rider Levett Bucknall said: "This project is the biggest commercial one to kick off this year in New Zealand but there's certainly more in the pipeline."
Manson said: "This new building will be the most sustainably built six-star green-rated building in Auckland's CBD. We're taking environmental aspects to a new level as well as including wellness aspects into its design so people really want to come to work."
He acknowledged $500m plans for the site were made pre-Covid and shelved temporarily last year but strong demand prompted reignition.
"Everyone pushed the pause button due to Covid but there's such strong demand from occupiers for new buildings. The new building was always in the pipeline but we deferred it.
"The reason for a project this size is that people like new buildings. It's more important for office tenants to upgrade to new buildings now than it ever has been in the past. That's because business owners actually want their staff to come into work so the culture of their business is preserved.
"That's much harder to maintain if everyone's working from home," he said.
"Also, human beings are sociable and we get benefits from being around each other - particularly in the workplace environment," he said.
Mansons is also building new $250m offices on Carlton Gore Rd, Newmarket without any tenant precommitment.
"People want to go to the office still," Manson said of predictions of the office's demise.
Piles for Fifty Albert would be driven up to 50m into the earth. Carparks will be built above-ground in three levels to finish just below the same height as Albert St, he said.
Auckland Transport's major upgrade of Albert St had made that thoroughfare "the new Queen St", Manson said, and the $4.4 billion City Rail Link further enhanced the area's connections, with stations at Britomart and Aotea.