Rare chance to storm Windsor Castle

5:00 AM Saturday February 13, 2016 Colin Taylor

The historic Windsor Castle Hotel which is for sale at 144 Parnell Rd.

One of Auckland’s historic hotels, the Windsor Castle in Parnell, is up for sale offering a significant opportunity for owner occupiers or to an investor to add value to the property.

Located on a high profile 890 sq m corner site at 144 Parnell Rd, on the intersection with Windsor St, the property is being marketed on behalf of a family trust which has owned it for over 25 years and is featured in Bayleys’ latest Greater Auckland portfolio,

“The two storey building was extensively refurbished internally and externally to a high standard in 2000 by the current owners,” says Mike Adams of Bayleys Auckland who, with colleague Cameron Melhuish, is marketing the property for sale by tender closing on March 3 unless it sells earlier by negotiation.

“It is being offered for sale fully leased to two tenants, with a hospitality business on the ground floor and a legal firm occupying the upper level which has been converted to character office space,” Adams says.

“The property is producing net annual rental income of $255,936 plus GST from two leases that expire towards the middle of this year with no rights of renewal. This provides a number of options for the next owner who could renegotiate new leases with the existing tenants; occupy part or all of the building; or looking at other alternatives to increase the property’s income. One of these could be to use an existing resource consent to subdivide the ground floor into retail units.”

The present Windsor Castle hotel was constructed on the site in the early 1850s and is believed to have entirely replaced an original Windsor Castle pub that burned down shortly after it was built. Constructed as a Georgian drinking house, major renovations and remodelling were completed between 1882 and 1885 which saw the Victorian Italianate facade added that still dominates its appearance.

It is one of the longest surviving hotels in Auckland and is among the oldest remaining brick buildings in the city. Heritage New Zealand has given Windsor Castle a Historic Place Category 1 classification, saying the building makes a strong contribution to the streetscape of Parnell and adds considerably to the historic character of the suburb.

“Over its life, the property has been added to and refurbished but the character attributes of this stunning building remain largely intact and have been meticulously maintained,” says Adams. “Given the exterior of the building has the highest possible historical protection, any further work on it would need to be respectful of that.”

The ground floor and basement area is occupied by a single tenant on a lease which expires in June. It is divided into a number of bars and function areas. The main bar and restaurant area of the 577 sq m ground floor is located off the ornate corner entrance to the building. Beneath this is a 35.8 sq m basement which was originally the cellar of the Windsor Castle. While it still serves that purpose, it is also now a private function room catering for up to 16 people for dinner or up to 30 for drinks.

Also located at ground level is the Juice Bar, with its own separate entrance off Parnell Rd. It is promoted as Parnell’s premium party venue, able to cater for between 80 to 300 guests and is used for various private and corporate functions, and events like album launches and quiz nights. It has its own hi tech lighting and sound equipment.

The ground level also has an office, commercial kitchen, cool room and storage areas. Outside there is an additional 164 sq m Cabana open air bar and dining area that can cater for up to 150 people. It has cover and heating for cooler months and evenings.

 The 268 sq m upper level, which has its own separate access and comprises character offices, has been occupied by a commercial law firm since the 1990s and is currently producing net annual rental income of $83,936, with its lease expiring in May this year.

“This floor features elegant high stud office accommodation with original polished wooden tongue and groove flooring,” says Adams.  “The space is well lit as a result of its high ceilings and significant glazing.”

A central hallway provides access to various large offices and support offices, a reception area, lunchroom and kitchen, separate male and female bathroom facilities, and a shower. French doors open onto a small balcony at the Parnell Rd and Windsor St intersection end of the building.

Adams says the Windsor Castle has been a popular hospitality venue for many years, well known in particular for its live music, and the next owner could continue to operate it along similar lines.

 “However, given the building’s strong location and heritage status, it could also suit a wide range of other commercial uses. The vendor obtained the resource consent in 2011 to subdivide the ground floor and basement areas into multiple retail tenancies, using the building’s extensive glazing along Parnell Rd as street shop windows.

“They did not proceed with this when they secured a new tenancy for the whole of the ground floor but this consent is valid until 2021 so it could still be activated. A previous consent was granted in 1999 for redevelopment of the site incorporating the existing building and plans for this are also available, although that consent has now lapsed.”

Melhuish says structural strengthening was undertaken as part of the Windsor Castle’s refurbishment in 2000 and it has a good seismic rating for a building of its age. An Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP) and Detailed Engineering Evaluation completed by Abacus Engineering in 2013 gives a rating of 53.9 per cent of New Building Standard (NBS).  

“The current owners have taken measures to further strengthen the property and a building consent was issued in July 2014 for works to be completed to increase the seismic rating to 100 per cent of NBS,” Melhuish says. “Some of these works have been undertaken, such as in the roof area, and an engineer’s report outlining what has been done will be available for prospective purchasers to enable this upgrade to be completed.”

Melhuish says Parnell’s character buildings, its closeness to the CBD and the extensive motorway connections off Stanley Street continues to attract high calibre tenants.

“Up market restaurant and bar operators are set up in Parnell alongside boutique retailers and innovative businesses wanting to be close to the city, but in a location with a bit of exclusivity and character. New hospitality arrivals over the past year include the Woodpecker Hill eatery in the Old Bog premises and the recently opened 46 & York near the top of Parnell Rise.

“Significant development has been completed and is planned within Parnell’s boundaries by a number of well-known Auckland developers which indicates considerable confidence in this location. Mansons TCLM intends to demolish an existing warehouse and showroom at 96 St Georges Bay Rd and build a 12,000 sq m $100 million office building with 240 car parks. A retail and office development is also planned for ex-Attwoods site between Faraday St and Cleveland Rd. These will all bring more people into the suburb and benefit existing businesses there.”