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Two Auckland CBD landmarks have been restored to heritage status, writes Colin Taylor.
The owners of two historic Auckland city buildings, the 19th-century T & G Building in Wellesley St West on the corner with Elliott St, and Reslau House at 39-41 Elliott St, are being marketed for sale through Nick Hargreaves, director of investment sales at Jones Lang LaSalle.
Hargreaves is seeking expressions of interest on the two buildings by March 17 and is expecting the city landmarks to be of interest to both local and offshore investors.
The T & G Building at 15-31 Wellesley St was built as a warehouse in the late 1880s for Archibald & Sons, before conversion and remodelling into offices in 1929 for Temperance and General Insurance (T & G). Reslau House was also built in the 1880s.
The buildings are situated on two freehold sites which have a combined area of 1783sq m and contain mixed-use space totalling 6056sq m.
Hargreaves says the properties underwent a meticulous four-year renovation completed in 2005, which uncovered and restored many of the original features of the building including paint finishes and colours of the 19th-century era.
Featured in selected rooms are antique solid wood New Zealand and English furniture, French fabrics and Spanish gilded mirrors.
The T & G building now houses 65 apartment suites.
Selected suites have a 4m high stud with ornate pressed metal ceilings and big bronze chandeliers.
“Large ornate windows enhance the spaciousness of the suites, while 21st-century mod-cons such as LCD flat-screen TVs, internet, laundry and full kitchens make for extra comfort and convenience,” Hargreaves says.
“The top floor also hosts the Cozy Kiwi Auckland Backpackers.”
Reslau House, next door to the T & G Building, houses the restored Elliott Stables with about 20 chic international boutique eateries on an old European-styled cobbled lane with speciality restaurants from Italy, Spain, India, Middle East, France and Latin America.
“Frankies Wurstebud, with traditional gourmet sausages from all over Europe, sits alongside the Kapiti Cheese Store, The Whisky Shop, Artisan Fine Wine Suppliers, Italian Bruschetta, The Chocolate Cake Company, Torchon French Creperie, Besos Latinos, Suri Florist and Samurai Sushi,” Hargreaves says.
“The Three Sisters Korean restaurant, Reslau Cafe and Wine Bar, Deniro Italian and El Faro Spanish Restaurant, More Hair and Perfect Fit also tenant the building with Dance Pro on the upper levels.”
On the ground floor with frontage to Wellesley St is Vogue Drycleaners, N-Mart, Goodwin Realty, Bob's Chargrill, Mexicano and the original Middle East Cafe that has been in occupation for 27 years. Also occupying space in the property are Macgregor Brother's Cafe and Tony's Steak House that has been in business for 48 years and which is Auckland's oldest steak house.
The T & G building is prominently situated near other landmark buildings such as Smith and Caughey's, the Civic Theatre, Auckland Town Hall and Auckland City Art Gallery.
“The T & G Building reflects an early turn-of-the-last-century glamour with its magnificent lofted marble columns and bronze entrance lobby,” Hargreaves says.
The T & G building and Reslau House are Category 2 historic buildings under the New Zealand Historic Places Trust listing and are scheduled by Auckland Council as Category B historic buildings.
Hargreaves says the buildings are expected to benefit from the Auckland Council's $9.5 million upgrade of Elliott and Darby St.
“The upgrades are part of a 10-year programme, with the area seen as a destination featuring a distinctive style for business, shopping and dining. The upgrade to the streetscape outside Reslau House and the Elliott Stables should be completed in August before the Rugby World Cup,” he says.
Hargreaves says it is commendable that, in the face of today's intricate building regulations when many precious historic buildings are being demolished, the T & G building and Reslau House have been restored by owners Harry van Hoppe and builder Gary Hill. “Gary follows his great grandfather, a builder of some of Auckland's greatest historic buildings including the waterside, Esplanade Hotel in Devonport, Fonterra's headquarters in Princes St and the recently deconstructed cargo sheds on Queen's Wharf.
“Harry and Gary worked closely with the Historic Places Trust and the Auckland Council to gain resource consent that would restore the buildings to original heritage status.
“As a result, the buildings are well understood by the Historic Places Trust and the Auckland Council, who were involved throughout the entire process.”
“The T & G Building has been restored to its original character with added benefits of strong covenants and a myriad of well-known occupiers that support solid investment fundamentals,” Hargreaves says.
“The mixed-use nature of the T & G Building is also an attractive quality as it enables a diversification of cashflow. Investors should also consider the option of providing rental accommodation for visitors to the Rugby World Cup in September and October.
Tenancies across the two buildings range from short-term to six years, with the potential delivery of a combined annual rental from the T & G Building and Reslau House in the vicinity of $3 million.”
Hargreaves quotes Ian Grant, Auckland Council's senior built heritage specialist, as saying: “The buildings make a significant contribution to the streetscape of Wellesley St West and Elliott St and represent a remnant of the historic buildings from the early 1900s in this part of the city.”
Hargreaves says the focus of the development of the Auckland CBD in recent years has been north towards the waterfront but he believes that recent announcements by Auckland Council Mayor Len Brown on transport policy and an inner-city CBD rail link may alter this dynamic.
“The Mayor's vision of an Auckland CBD rail link may be constructed by 2021 with a proposed tunnel linking Britomart to Mt Eden station. This would open up and interconnect the entire CBD and stimulate the growth of upper CBD precincts.
“In a report prepared for OnTrack and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority in mid-2010 it was noted that the CBD rail ink will allow for the office stock to grow from 1.3 million sq m to just under 2 million sq m by 2041. Retail stock will grow from 164,000sq m to 254,000sq m, according to the report.”
Hargreaves refers to a statement attributed to Brown “that an Auckland CBD rail link is perhaps the most critical element in Auckland's transformation into a globally competitive urban centre”.
He says the spotlight will particularly shine on New Zealand during the upcoming Rugby World Cup. “While local high-net worth investors are still the most active purchaser group in New Zealand, steadier conditions abroad are enabling offshore investors to re-enter the market.
“Investors are looking to spread their finances across many varied investment vehicles after the jitters from the global financial crisis and New Zealand is a location that has become synonymous with safety and transparency,” says Hargreaves.
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