Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

News Release


St Joseph’s Convent building to be sold by JLL

A historic Grey Lynn building is for sale for the first time in 20 years through commercial property specialists JLL.



Long term investment with development potential/new-zealand/en-gb/news/916/long-term-investment-with-development-potentialAUCKLANDLong term investment with development potential
Former Fire Station on high profile corner site/new-zealand/en-gb/news/915/former-fire-station-on-high-profile-corner-siteCHRISTCHURCHFormer Fire Station on high profile corner site

454 Great North Rd 08-min.jpgThe former St Joseph’s Convent building at 454 Great North Road is on a 1,626sqm site and has a floor area of 933sqm. 

JLL has been appointed as the sole agency for this property and is launching a marketing campaign centring on the building’s unique features, its historic façade, its popular location and huge development potential. 

The property is being marketed via an expression of interest campaign by JLL sales specialists Nick Hargreaves and Alex Wefers. 

Nick Hargreaves says the building has a fascinating history. 

“The convent’s history on this site dates back to 1917, when Grey Lynn was still a relatively new district. The Sisters of St Joseph originally lived in a wooden convent building but this burned down at Easter of 1921.”

Donations poured in from around New Zealand and in November 1921 the foundation stone of the new convent was laid by the Archbishop of the time. On November 12, 1922 the completed structure was opened debt-free, thanks to the generosity of New Zealand’s Catholic population.

Alex Wefers says the site has huge development potential. 

“The two-storied building was designed by Auckland architecture firm Edward Mahoney and Sons in a domestic Italian style, as a residence for the nuns and 50 boarders. It is constructed in plastered brick and concrete with a clay-tiled roof. It has fine stairways and incorporates a chapel. In 1978 the Grey Lynn convent was renovated and the exterior and interior painted, however it retains many of its attractive original features.”

The building shows a mix of Italian and Spanish Mission styles as well as classical-Georgian style. The internal decoration and finishes are generally in a restrained classical Georgian style. The cornices and skirtings are mostly timber. The chapel has a simple arch to define the altar, which has a coved ceiling. 

The convent was used for boarders up until the 1960s. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, it served the needs of the parish and its primary school. When the old school next door was torn down to make way for the new primary school, the convent and its nuns were no longer needed, as the new school was to be run and staffed by lay teachers. The building fell into disuse for much of the 1990s. 

The building transferred to private ownership in the early 1990s and has been run as a boarding house for low-income earners. 

While many of the larger spaces have been subdivided into bedrooms, little change has been made to original walls and fittings such as doors, ceilings, skirtings and architraves. Alterations have been carried out inexpensively using timber framed walls and ceilings lined with Gib board. 

Nick Hargreaves says this section of Great North Road is booming. 

“We have seen developers, investors and big brands like Bunnings and Lamborghini recently commit to this strip. There are several new apartment developments nearby.”

While the proposed unitary plan suggests terrace housing for this area, Alex Wefers says this site, which has views of the Waitakeres, could work for a variety of uses including retirement villages or hotel accommodation.

“It is a stone’s throw from the city and has excellent access to the motorway network and public transport. There are shops within 300m and of course Ponsonby’s retail strip is moments away,” Wefers says.

“It’s a particularly wealthy area,” Wefers says. “If you look at the area in a 2km radius around the property, almost 40% of households are in the highest income quartile.”


Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, New Zealand Story 1883-1983. Sister Anne Marie Power R.S.J.

Heritage Assessment of 454 Great North Rd by Matthews & Matthews Architects, July 2006. 

JLL Research and Consulting, SNZ.