The Portland Buildings, on the corner of New North and Central Rd opposite Kingsland railway station, has been a local landmark for close to a century since its construction in 1914.

The building has an Auckland City Council Category B heritage classification and is one of a number of buildings deemed worthy of protection which were built close to Kingsland railway station for Arthur William Page, considered to be the founding father of the Kingsland town centre.

The Portland Buildings was designed by architect Arthur H. White and constructed directly across the street from the railway station - part of a general pattern at the time of building suburban shopping blocks close to or along tram routes.

The name Portland is thought to derive the name from the ship that brought the Page family from England in 1864.

Now this slice of Kingsland history is up for sale at time when the central Auckland suburb is undergoing a substantial revitalisation ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Portland's exterior has changed little over that time with ornate parapets remaining intact atop the two-level concrete building and contributing to its distinctive appearance.

However, the mix of tenants which has occupied the Edwardian shops since the beginning of World War I has changed considerably over the years, reflecting shifts in society and in the dynamics of the suburb. The first occupants of the shops were a pastry cook, a pork butcher, stationer and fancy goods store, a fruiterer, fishmonger, an artist and an art depot.

These days the fully let Portland Buildings houses a mix of local, national and international tenants, reflecting the increasing globalisation of the retail sector. Multinational Vodafone's partner-operator 3G Mobiles Ltd, runs a business centre out of the building which is also home to one of Flight Centre's many outlets in Australasia, North America, Britain and South Africa.

Glengarry Wines has chosen the Portland Buildings for one of its 17 stores in the Auckland and Wellington region. Local business Crucial Traders Ltd has been operating out of the building since 1993, with its upstairs/downstairs café recently receiving a 4-star review in the New Zealand Herald. The Ismail Superette has also been a longstanding tenant.

More recent arrivals have been women's boutique fashion store Dressing Dolls and the Ivy bar and restaurant which took over the lease on the building's corner tenancy in 2005 and last year exercised a four-year right of renewal.

The leases on the six tenancies range from two to five years, with rights of renewal, and the Portland Buildings is producing annual net rental income of around $292,000 plus GST.

The property is being offered for sale by auction and will go under the hammer on September 23 along with a number of other commercial and industrial properties being marketed by Bayleys in its latest Total Property portfolio. The sale is being handled by Stuart Bode of Bayleys' Auckland.

This is the first time the building has been offered for sale since it was purchased by family interests in 1965.

Bode says the building has always been popular with tenants because of its high-profile position on a corner site at the gateway to Kingsland's main retail area.

Other tenants over the years have included a dental surgeon, hairdresser Kingsland historic landmark is going up for auction and tobacco store, a bookmaker and draper, milk bar and home bakery, confectioners, a dairy, drycleaner and Indian restaurant.

Bode says it is most likely to appeal to long-term investors looking for a well-located property in a sought-after area where retail premises rarely become vacant. He says the tight supply of retail accommodation is likely to remain in central Kingsland, with future development constrained by its ridgetop location and the railway line.

Kingsland's retail and commercial centre has had a long association with Eden Park dating back to the early 1900s when the swampy ground was first purchased as a cricket facility. Many of the buildings along the southern side of New North Rd have elevated views of the park and the area has been undergoing a significant rejuvenation since the re-opening of the railway station on the western line and in the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2011.

Thousands of rugby fans are expected to make use of the railway station, just a short stroll from Eden Park, and frequent Kingsland's increasingly varied array of bars, restaurants and cafes before and after matches.

Bode says the upgrading of the area would have occurred regardless of the World Cup but the lure of the event has certainly helped with the Auckland City Council, for example, having allocated $1.63 million for the upgrade of Kingsland town centre.

"Beyond the 2011 Rugby World Cup, Kingsland is expected to continue to develop as a mixed-use precinct with more apartment buildings planned on the high-density residential land along the ridge on the outer edges of the city."

Kingsland started life in the 1850s as a rural village at the intersection of two rough tracks leading from Queen St along the ridge to Avondale and through Cabbage Tree Swamp (now Eden Park and Gribblehurst Park) to Three Kings.

The completion of the western rail line in 1880 led to the subdivision and settlement of the Kingsland area and its establishment as a shopping precinct. Page opened a family grocery store and a post office on the main street of Whau Rd (now New North Rd) in 1885.

In the early 20th century he also developed what were known as A. W. Page's grain and forage stores which now house the Kingslander Bar. This became one of the largest merchandise outlets in Auckland at that time, employing more than 30 staff.