CBD building’s grand facade recalls 1880s
A modern building stands behind the facade of the original Freemasons Hall, at 7 Princes St in the Auckland CBD.
One of central Auckland’s heritage facade properties, the former Freemasons Hall at 7 Princes Street, is for sale offering an opportunity for either an owner occupier or an add value investor.
The three-level building was previously part of the Fonterra headquarters’ complex but will be available for occupation on its own separate title of about 325sq m once an upgrade of the 845sq m premises has been completed in early 2018.
“This offering represents an extraordinary opportunity to own and further enhance a landmark property in an historic CBD location,” says Colin McKenna of Bayleys’ Auckland office who is marketing it for sale by deadline private treaty closing at 4pm, October 5, unless it sells earlierby negotiation.
“With its exquisite 19th century facade, it provides an owner occupier looking for character space with the chance to make a real statement about their business. It could also appeal to an investor or developer with a passion for historical structures who could lease it out to professional service providers who also like this type of space or convert all or part of it to residential accommodation.”
The original building on the site was built in 1881 for £3500 for use as a meeting place for Freemasons. Adjacent, and built almost contemporaneously, was The Grand Hotel at 9-11 Princes St, the most luxurious hotel of its day.
McKenna says both buildings have strikingly distinctive frontages which were designed in a “Corinthian” or colonial renaissance ornamental style. They were converted to office space in the mid-1960s and the buildings were eventually demolished in 1988, although the facades were retained and incorporated into a new office tower erected behind them. This was initially occupied by KPMG and later became the Fonterra Centre until the co-operative relocated to its current head office complex in Fanshawe Street.
McKenna says the total site was acquired by the current owner in 2015 and 9-11 Princes Street is being converted to a world class apartment complex, “The International”, which will incorporate The Grand Hotel facade. This is scheduled for completion in late 2017/early 2018.
He says the property at 7 Princes Street will be re-enclosed to its maximum footprint, offering three levels of space encompassing 303sq m of ground floor accommodation, another level of approximately 294sq m and a top floor area of 248sq m plus 60sq m of decking. The site will also be resurveyed and a new freehold certificate of title issued.
“Resource consent has been obtained to upgrade the building. This will include refurbishment of the facade to pristine condition with opaque glazing to be installed on the non-historical northern façade frontage,” says McKenna.
“Internally specifications and finishes will be of the highest quality and include polished concrete flooring, new fire protection, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as wiring and data outlets. A new lift will be installed and the stairs will also be upgraded. The new owner will also acquire a building that has an Initial Evaluation Procedure [IEP] seismic assessment of 100 per cent of New Building Standard [NBS].
“There will be flexibility for the purchaser to determine both the actual use and final fit-out of the building. It would lend itself to character commercial space or residential accommodation or a combination of the two.
“For example, the upper level and deck would make great apartment space while the lower levels could be turned into boutique offices, with professional tenants, such as lawyers, prepared to pay a premium for good quality accommodation in this location. The ground floor space might also suit a retail service use such as a cafe or delicatessen.”
McKenna says the upgrade will be undertaken alongside the development of the adjacent “The International” apartment complex, with the building available for occupation in the first quarter of 2018.
The property is in the CBD’s Waterloo Quadrant precinct which retains the grandeur of the old city along with modern flavours, says McKenna. “It is among a strip of character buildings on Princes St, some of which also date back to the 19th century when the street was part of Auckland’s premier residential precinct.
“Other nearby historic buildings include The Northern Club, Old Government House and Chancery with The Pullman Hotel directly opposite. Queen St is only a short stroll away via Shortland St as is The Britomart transport terminal and Albert Park.”