Spotlight on landmark Hollywood cinema

5:00 AM Saturday August 1, 2015 Colin Taylor

The frontage Avondale’s century-old Hollywood Cinema at 18-20 St Georges Rd.

Avondale’s neoclassical structure and century-old Hollywood Cinema has been put on the market for the first time since it was built during World War I.  

“This beautiful character-filled building occupies a prime spot on a busy Auckland suburban road,” says Tony Allsop of Colliers International who, with colleague Brad Visser, is marketing the property at 18-20 St Georges Rd for sale by tender closing on August 19, unless it sells earlier by negotiation.

“The cinema is a well-known local landmark and its sale presents an excellent opportunity for a new owner to restore the building and secure its future,” Allsop says.

“It’s an excellent proposition for property buyers looking to acquire an attractive asset in a prominent location. The buyer will be in a good position to capture the likely increases in value that will emerge as Avondale gains prominence and grows in harmony with Auckland Council’s vision for the suburb as a local town centre.”

Visser says the building’s position and attractive facade are expected to be big drawcards. “For buyers looking to anchor their portfolio with a well-known and recognised commercial property asset, this building will tick all the boxes as an instantly recognisable ‘trophy’ holding. Opportunities like this one don’t come up every day..”

The eight metre, two storey cinema is constructed of brick and block masonry, while the elegant facade features decorative plasterwork features and columns. The facade and the building’s ‘front of house’ areas date back to 1915. 

The Hollywood Cinema’s main hall was constructed in 1924 when an original wooden cinema building was moved next door.

Allsop says the building was the first cinema to be constructed in Auckland and was first named the Avondale Town Hall. Films were initially screened in the older, timber building which remains on the site and is included in the sale.

The two buildings on the 1111 sq m freehold site have a combined floor area of 1075 sq m.

From 1930 to 1946 the building was known as Hayward's Town Hall Pictures. During that period the cinema was run by the Hayward family which was part of the famous Fuller-Haywards theatre circuit.

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Aerial view depicting Avondale’s Hollywood Cinema in its setting.  

When Fuller-Haywards was sold to the newly formed Kerridge-Odeon Theatres Ltd in 1946, a second generation of Haywards formed a new company called Auckland Cinemas Ltd to take over the running of some of the suburban Auckland venues. Hayward’s Town Hall Pictures was included among the company’s portfolio of five cinemas and was renamed the Grosvenor Theatre.

In 1966 Jan Grefstad took over the running of the cinema, renaming it Hollywood Cinema as it remains today. Grefstad ran the cinema for 36 years, during which time it became famous for screening The Rocky Horror Picture Show between 1978 and 1988.

For the past 35 years the building has housed a historic Wurlitzer organ owned by the Wurlitzer Organ Trust of Auckland. It was originally installed in the Regent Theatre on Queen St and is not included in the sale.

Visser says the property is within 400 metres of the Avondale Train Station and is in an area with regular bus services.

“The excellent public transport options, combined with Avondale’s location just 10 km from the Auckland central business district, have turned the suburb into a growth hot spot,” he says.

“As Auckland’s population growth places increasing pressure on the inner ring of suburbs, Avondale situated between the established suburbs of Mt Albert and Point Chevalier, is ideally placed to benefit as a convenient residential and commercial hub.”

The Proposed Auckland Unity Plan, [PAUP] which sets out Auckland Council’s vision for Auckland to become “the world’s most liveable city”, identifies Avondale as a ‘town centre’..

“This means it is set to become a local centre providing a range of retail and business facilities, alongside community amenities servicing a large and growing surrounding residential catchment,” Visser says.

Allsop says the plan designates Avondale for residential, mixed-use and higher density developments, in order for the area to accommodate up to 8000 more residents over the next 30 years.

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Tony Allsop, Colliers International.