Character building a former convent

2:56 PM Friday November 17, 2017 True Commercial

The 296sq m two-level former convent at 53 Wood St has a two-level frontage to the street in central Papakura. Photo / Supplied

Constructed as a convent in the 1950s and later home to a legal practice — a landmark Papakura building is to go under the hammer as part of Bayleys’ final Total Property auction for 2017.

The 296sq m, two-level building, on a large (1012sq m) site at 53 Wood St is for sale with vacant possession through Rod Grieve and Peter Migounoff of Bayleys South Auckland. It’s to be auctioned on December 6, unless sold earlier.

“Built in 1955 as a convent for the nuns of the St Mary’s Catholic Church, there have only been three owners in the property’s 62-year history and they have been well served by this unique building,” says Grieve.

“It has been owned and occupied by Papakura law firm Warren Simpson & Co since 1984 and is now being offered for sale because principal Warren Simpson is retiring and closing his practice.

“The building has an imposing two-level frontage to Wood St, a main residential and commercial arterial route within central Papakura, as well as two single level, high-stud wings to the rear. It has been well maintained and refurbished by the current owner in keeping with the original character.”

There are also two storage sheds and a substantial yard area, accessed through an electric gate off Wood St, which has provided off-street parking for clients and staff as well as rear access to the building.

“This is an underutilised part of the site and has the potential for further development,” says Grieve.

“The property will have appeal to owner-occupiers, add-value investors as well as developers, given its flexible Business-Mixed Use zoning that permits a wide variety of commercial and residential uses.

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The property was built in 1955 as a convent for the nuns of the St Mary’s Catholic Church. Photo / Supplied

“We have already had inquiry from parties interested in potentially using the building as a restaurant, cafe, as professional offices and a boarding house, as well as from developers attracted by its residential development potential.”

Migounoff says the property is in a popular location within easy walking distance of the CBD, schooling and one of Auckland’s busiest train stations, which provides regular daily services to the Britomart Transport Centre.

“This part of Papakura was developed in the 1950s with a mix of commercial and residential buildings on full sites. Many of these have subsequently been cross-leased and subdivided, with some multi-unit development as well, and this is one of a dwindling number of larger sites that remain,” says Migounoff.

“It’s also a prominent, elevated site, which gives the property plenty of profile and means that the building is something of a local landmark and offers good branding and signage opportunities.”

Warren Simpson says that as befits a building designed as a convent, there are many rooms — 14 downstairs and eight upstairs — and about 50 doors.

“The nuns were living in the convent for more than a quarter of a century in none-too-easy circumstances serving the people of Franklin and Papakura and teaching at St Mary's schools. The building was originally verging on the austere, with wooden floors, a lot of frosted glass for the nuns’ privacy and few frills.

“When my firm took over the property from a development company . . . we replaced the frosted glass with a type of lead light, ornate windows enhanced by exterior and interior wooden shutters,” says Simpson.

“We also replaced a lot of the doors and their fittings with designs of our own. All these improvements have been designed to give the building a more pleasing, period look.

“We’ve also made more than 30 enhancements to the front of the building and its decks, including adding 12 reinforced pillars and floodlighting it at night.

“A range of modern security features has also been added.”