The year has got off to a flying start for commercial property after marina owner Simon Herbert paid $47.5 million for an iconic Auckland office block.
Herbert said his Empire Capital has bought 220 Queen St and he plans to upgrade the exterior, lift lobby and common areas.
The 11-level block will be refurbished to look more like the kind of iconic New York commercial tower its exterior was modelled on originally, he said.
"The facade of the building was based on New York's famous Seagram Building on Park Avenue. We plan to refurbish the facade to more reflect that," said Herbert.
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The block was purpose-built in 1962 for AMP and Herbert said he had also bought a business which operates from the building, Data Centre 220.
The vendor was the Pacific Trust, controlled by interests associated with Martin Berridge Spencer and Catherine Anne Spencer.
Herbert said 220 Queen St's purchase was not his first office block. Empire Capital had owned but sold 246 Queen St nearby some years ago.
"This is a really good long-term investment for the group, a building in an exceptional location on the corner of Queen St and Victoria St," Herbert said today of 220 Queen St.
Starbucks, which leases ground-floor space, was examining a refurbishment, he said.
The sale of the building and the business was brokered by Henry Thompson at Whillians Realty Group. The office block has 5653sq m of office space on a freehold 639sq m site and is just 150m from what is expected to be Auckland's busiest underground train station when Aōtea opens in 2024, Whillians' information memorandum said.
This was the first time it was listed for sale in 22 years and the building returns $1.96m rent annually, being almost fully occupied.
The data centre business, Data Centre, generates an additional about $622,126 a year by renting rack space to companies for off-site computer storage. A total of 151 racks are located in the basement and in part of the second floor of the building. 108 of these racks are currently occupied, the memo said.
Empire Capital has extensive marina interests at Pine Harbour, Bayswater Marina and at Hobsonville Marina where Herbert is planning development.
Empire wants to buy further land for development at West Harbour's Hobsonville Marina but Herbert said today no agreement had yet been reached.
At Bayswater, designs for residential and retail uses have been submitted to Auckland Council's urban design panel. A project with townhouses, not unlike Ponsonby's Vinegar Lane, was planned for that North Shore site, he said.
"It's going to be a great design outcome with terraced houses and two to three modestly sized apartment buildings as retail and cafe on the ground floors," he said.
Simon and Paula Herbert set a record of nearly $60m of Auckland residential property transactions in a month during 2018 when they sold their Remuera mansion and bought in St Mary's Bay.