Towering vision for Auckland cityscape

9:35 AM Saturday September 20, 2014 Colin Taylor

Architect’s impression of street level view of proposed new 48 storey tower block at 100 Commerce St.

A block of Auckland CBD land with plans for the construction of what would be the city’s tallest skyscraper on completion has been placed on the market for sale.

Purchase of the freehold 1388 sq m site at 10 & 12 Commerce St and Gore Lane also takes in development rights to land under Achilles House at 8 Commerce St.

The three parcels of land making up the block have two street frontages with access from Gore St and a 37.7 metre long frontage to Commerce St.

The property is on the eastern side of Commerce Street close to the intersection with Customs St. It is one city block east of Queen St, a block from Quay St and the waterfront; and is close to the Britomart Transport Centre.

The proposed 48 storey residential tower has a gross buildable floor area of 36,000 sq m and would have unobstructed northerly views over Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.

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Architect’s impression of proposed 48 level tower block at 100 Commerce St – looking south down Commerce St from the waterfront. 

Architect’s indicative plans show a 170 metre high structure that could be built on the land. At that height, it would eclipse the nearby 167 metre Vero Centre - currently the tallest occupied building in the city. (Auckland’s tallest non occupied structure is the Sky Tower at 328 metres).

However, the proposed 209 metre, 52 level, NDG Auckland Centre, envisaged by Shanghai businessman Furu Ding for the corner of Elliot St, Albert St and Victoria St would take over the mantle as Auckland highest occupied building upon its completion. The New Development Group owned by Ding plans to build the tower, which would include a 302-room hotel and entertainment complex, residential apartments, shopping, restaurants, a cinema and two sky deck areas within the tower structure.

“The architectural plan for the Commerce St and Gore Lane site is designed to demonstrate what could be built on the land given its zoning of Queen Street Valley Precinct, Strategic Management Area 1,” says James Chan salesperson for Bayleys Auckland Central, who is marketing the site with its plans for sale by negotiation.   

“The indicative plans show a 48 level residential building on the site. However, it is also suitable for the development of an office, hotel or mixed use building,” Chan says.

The current concept is for a ground level comprising the entry and retail along Commerce St along with a loading dock, plant rooms and entry garages for the parking levels employing a state-of-the-art vehicle stacking system.

Level 2 would house a 225 sq metre movement studio, storage lockers for the apartments and a refuse room with a lift to the loading dock.

Levels 3 to 10 would contain the automated car park stacking system with access from two the ‘virtual’ entry and exit garages located on the ground floor. Each level of the eight levels would have 27 dual entry vehicle bays or a building total of 216 car park spaces.

Swipe card access would allow a car to enter one of the garages where an empty pallet would be waiting. A driver would exit the car following which the pallet and the vehicle would be moved horizontally to a parking layer having an empty space. The car on the pallet would be ‘slid’ into the space.

When retrieving a vehicle, the driver would use an access card to activate the system and return the car to the virtual garage. During the journey down the car would be rotated 180 degrees so that when it arrived in the garage on the ground floor, it would be ready to be driven out forwards.

A large gymnasium, swimming pool and large outdoor terrace would occupy Level 11.

“The remaining 37 levels from 12 to 48 would comprise 37 levels of residential apartments ranging in size from 55 sq m to 600 sq m,” Chan says.

The indicative architect’s plan complying with the Auckland Council’s Residential Apartment Standards under the Operative Plan, shows 202 apartments consisting of two full floor penthouses, six half floor sub penthouses, 20 three-bedroom plus study apartments, 64 two-bedroom plus study apartments and 110 one-bedroom plus study apartments.

“A three level and a seven level building currently occupy the site and they would provide good holding income if renovated,” Chan says.

Chan said the area of town immediately encircling the proposed new tower has undergone significant ‘gentrification’ over the past six years.

“The Britomart quarter has been instrumental in raising the quality of commercial tenancies around Auckland’s downtown rail hub. In addition to the likes of blue chip corporates such as Westpac and Ernst & Young relocating their offices to the area, there has also been the shift of fashion brands such as Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper to the precinct,” Chan says.

“The area has also evolved significantly as a hospitality and entertainment hub with the emergence of bars and restaurants like Mexico, Café Hanoi, Ostro, Tyler Street Garage, 1885 and the Britomart Country Club.

“The site is being sold together with the development rights,” Chan says. “A flexible width grid has been developed so that the internal floor plans can be easily changed to incorporate different internal layouts.”

He says building covenants protecting Achilles House would ensure the historic six storey building would remain unchanged from its current form. Achilles House was built in 1904 as a kauri gum trading post for LD Nathan and Co.

It underwent a substantial refurbishment – both internally and externally – in 2009, which saw the modernisation of much of its infrastructure while retaining its character features. The building houses a mix of retail tenants at street level, with commercial occupants in the five levels above.

“The height covenant on Achilles House protects the views of a new tower block forever and also substantially increases the permissible floor area of the remainder of the adjoining land within the parcel,” Chan says.

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Mug shot of Bayleys Auckland Central agent James Chan who is quoted in the story.

“Similarly, the nearby Britomart precinct is well developed now and has a nine level height limit while its heritage-protected buildings will remain at their current heights – thereby protecting the views of the upper levels within the planned Commerce Street tower where the first apartment level starts at Level 12.”

Tenants occupying the Commerce Street buildings within the land and buildings parcel being offered for sale are retail outlets all with demolition clauses with 12-month notifications – allowing for a gradual and clean transition into the construction phase required for any new high-rise development.

A luxury-branded $50 million five-star Sofitel hotel is currently being built on the eastern boundary of the land parcel. The mid-rise hotel encompasses the façade and core structure of what was the former Reserve bank Building and is scheduled for completion and opening next year.

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Graphic comparing size of proposed new building at 100 Commerce St with Sky the Tower and other Auckland high rise buildings.