Plans have been unveiled for Queen's Rise a new up-market Auckland city single-site dining precinct with a combined seating capacity for over 500 diners that has been designed to rival the culinary hubs of trendy Ponsonby, the Viaduct, and Britomart.
The 1700 sq m complex will be housed within the newly-redeveloped former BNZ bank building at 125 Queen St to be named 125Q and will be split over two floors. Thirteen tenancies are being offered ranging in size from 10 sq m through to 125 sq m.
Other commercial and recreational operations within the refurbished building include a retail outlet, New World Metro supermarket, a corporate gym and sophisticated childcare facilities.
High-end Sydney-based interior design company Alexander & Co has been appointed to oversee the interior design of the project while principal architect Jeremy Bull's current projects include Sean Connolly's new restaurant at Sky City Casino in Adelaide and Fraser Short's new Sydney restaurant, Daniel San.
The retail sites within the split-level Queen's Rise floor space are now being leased by Leah La Hood of Bayleys Real Estate and are featured in Bayleys' latest Total Property magazine.
La Hood says that given its location and catchment area, Queen's Rise has the potential to attract more than 10,000 customers per day.
"Construction of Queen's Rise has already begun, with food and beverage operators scheduled to take up residency towards the end of the year immediately upon completion of the redevelopment."
She says the planned destination reflects an evolution in the city's dining scene - moving up from lower quality ethnic-based eateries into a more urban European style of both food and decor.
"Queen's Rise, with its heritage facade built in 1867, is a beautiful building with a rich history," La Hood says. "It has all the dynamics to create a destination experience: history, architectural design, location and an exciting new concept to take it into the 21st century.
"Queen's Rise will be about wonderful hospitality - offering a diverse range of different eateries and restaurants in a dining environment that is edgy and intriguing. Beautifully restored, the space will draw on the building's existing features - including exposed structures and recycled materials to create true authenticity."
La Hood, who was instrumental in sourcing a varied menu of food and beverage tenants for the successful Ponsonby Central hospitality hub, says the nearest comparison from a decor and ambience perspective would be Ponsonby Central.
"However, we don't see Queen's Rise as being in competition with Ponsonby Central which draws from the local population, while Queen's Rise will be a preferred destination for the lower Queen Street catchment area.
"For the lunchtime trade, the core target market is workers in the commercial premises located between High Street and Albert Street, and from Wyndham Street down to Custom Street West."
The venue has easy access from the Britomart train station and Auckland Harbour's cruise ship terminal, while night-time trade is likely to consist of Auckland residents and tourists.
La Hood said all outlets within the Queen's Rise hospitality precinct would have their own distinct identities in terms of both food and decor.
"A hybrid dining environment will enable a majority of the Queen's Rise tenancies to have their own seating, with an area of smaller tenancies sharing a communal dining space."
Depending on the type of food being served, individual operations could be licensed to sell alcohol and venues could be either counter or table-service.
"The Queen's Rise concept is based on open-plan kitchen operations with chefs theatrically preparing food in clear view of the dining public," La Hood says.
"Flamboyant cooking could feature anything from a Teppanyaki grill through to a Mediterranean rotisserie. Diversity and quality of food offerings will be key to creating a repeat visit destination.
"The 'best of Auckland' will come together through a mix of independent hospitality specialists and dynamic chefs well-known for creating innovative, authentic food and convivial spots to gather with friends and colleagues. The operators will be recognised as some of the best in the industry, providing outstanding food and world-class service."
La Hood says a 'welcoming' and spacious lobby lounge has been designed to become a popular venue for congregating and connecting.
"This is anticipated to be an extension of the offices above - a relaxed place to welcome visitors, and a convenient breakout area for meetings over a cup of coffee. A ground floor café and bar will be located within the stylish and high-end lobby lounge," she says.
"This provides the opportunity for an operator to offer all-day menu catering for business-to-business meetings, office and corporate events and in the evening, after-work drinks and finger food.
"While many of the CBD's larger commercial towers do have existing 'on premise' food and beverage operations catering to personnel, those sites are limited to single venues and are mostly unlicensed with limited food and seating options," she says.
"Conversely, Queen's Rise will comprise a laneway-styled culinary precinct and entry into the world of imaginative and inventive dining. It will provide a variety of seating options and numerous different food and beverage offerings within a vibrant atmosphere."
La Hood says Bayleys has already commenced discussions with several experienced restaurateurs running existing stand-alone eateries in the city with a view to establishing a complementary presence in the Queen's Rise locality.
"The feedback we are getting is that Queen's Rise would be viewed as an addition to their primary operation, with new concepts designed to deliver food in a much shorter time frame - in line with the convenience requirements of lunchtime customers," she says.