News that a former Shortland Street star is buying Auckland's St Kevin's Arcade didn't come as a surprise to a tenant of the building described as the "soul" of K' Rd community.
Paul Reid played troubled teen Marshall Heywood on Shortland Street and was also known for his pop punk band Rubicon. He is now owner of Auckland property management company IconiCity.
Mr Reid told the Herald he was passionate about St Kevin's arcade and hoped to restore it.
The arcade at 183 Karangahape Road is 91-years-old and overlooks Myers Park. It houses an eclectic mix of bars, cafes and boutique and vintage shops, catering to the unique market of the area.
Wine Cellar owner Rohan Evans said the sale wasn't a "huge secret" as he had seen Mr Reid and his group checking out the property over the last couple of weeks. Current landlord Murray Rose had not advised tenants that the building was up for sale.
"My understanding is that Paul Reid and his group of investors approached Murray," he said.
Mr Evans has been a tenant in the arcade for 11 years and also started the adjacent Whammy! Bar.
Many Aucklanders took to Twitter to share their disbelief at the change of ownership, with Paula Korunic writing, "Please let the Rubicon/St Kevin's Arcade rumour be the result of someone's warped sense of humour", and others addressing the rumours that Mr Reid was planning to turn the arcade into a second Ponsonby Central foodcourt.
Not all were entirely critical, with James Cardno writing, "I'm all for K' Rd and its resistance of gentrification. That said, St Kevin's Arcade could also do with some maintenance work".
However, Mr Evans said that any change to the property was bound to upset its loyal visitors.
"I think the nature of the arcade is any change is going have some people a little bit upset, just because people have quite a lot of attachment to the way things are."
The building required a lot of ongoing maintenance and restoration, which he said had been started by Murray Rose when he first took it over.
"He did a whole lot of work when he first took over the building and since then his plans to carry on restoration things haven't really come to anything," Mr Evans said.
"If a new landlord means an equally well-done approach to restoration as the work that Murray had done when took over the building, that's best for everyone in the arcade."
Yesterday Mr Reid told the Herald he planned 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."
The Herald understands a deposit has been made and the sale will go ahead in August. When contacted by the Herald, current owner Murray Rose declined to comment.
St Kevin's arcade was built in 1924 and is classified as a category b historic building under under both the Auckland Council's district plan and the proposed unitary plan. Any major changes would require consent. Currently, 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.
Mr Evans said he planned to stay in the arcade as bars work on a three year licensing cycle.
"I definitely don't see there being anything that would upset these plans," he said.
However, he said that tenancies in the arcade tended to turn over quickly, describing it as a "fluid space".
'K Road Business Association head Barbara Holloway told the Herald yesterday the arcade was thought of as the soul of K' Rd.
"We all feel a great love and attachment to it," she said.
"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.
"It's just an amazing, awesome place. I don't think the sale of St Kevin's Arcade is going to change that."
- With additional reporting from NZME. News Service