Changes in mail for old post office

7:19 PM Friday August 23, 2019 True Commercial

Old Epsom Post Office will share its historic site with a planned residential development. Photo / Supplied

A commercial building that served as an Auckland suburban post office for nearly 90 years is on the market for sale.
What was the Epsom post office, at 311 Manukau Rd, is a two-storey 455sq m  building on a 789sq m corner site.
The building’s distinctive appearance — evident  by the tiled pitched roof, rough-cast cement plaster finish, wrap-around flat lower roof, and symmetrical exterior — has remained largely unchanged for more than a century.
The New Zealand Government bought the Manukau Rd site in 1907 to service anticipated Auckland suburban development in the Epsom and One Tree Hill locations. 
The Epsom Post Office was part of the first Liberal Government’s 15-year post office construction boom that began around 1900.
Built in 1909, the Epsom Post Office was designed in a Baroque revival style under the supervision of John Campbell, the Government architect of the time. 
The building mirrors significant Government buildings built around the turn of the 20th century.
Initially, it accommodated a public vestibule with posting boxes, a private box lobby accessed via a separate front entrance, a public office and mail room, telephone room and a small strong room. 
Reflecting customary 19th and early 20th  century commercial design, a two-bedroom postmistress’s residence was provided upstairs.
In 1937, alterations to the Epsom Post Office included the enlargement of the mail room and a flat-roofed, office addition. Its chimneys were removed in the 1980s. 
Since then  its interior has been refurbished and remodelled into professional office suites, including conversion of what was the postmistress’s apartment into workspace.
The downsizing and deregulation of the public sector by the Labour Government in the late 1980s — including splitting the Post Office into three separate entities — resulted in the Manukau Rd property being sold into private ownership in 1990.
Now it is being marketed for sale at auction on September 18 by Bayleys Auckland. 
It features in Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio magazine. Salespeople Quinn Ngo, Matt Lee and James Chan said that with a business mixed-use zoning under the Auckland Council Plan, the property has been granted consent for an additional five-storey residential development on the  land.
“The flexible business mixed-use zoning allows for an array of future use possibilities, including the headline potential for an additional separate commercial and/or residential building on the under-utilised land at the rear of the site,” says estate agent Chan. 
“Water and sewage services have already been laid in anticipation of further development of the property along these lines. 
“The address on the corner with Kimberley Rd has residential appeal because of its north-facing aspect and because it’s  within the double grammar school zone. 
“Additionally, for social amenities the major retail hub of Newmarket is a 15-minute walk away, or a few stops on a major bus route, while Cornwall Park is a similar distance in the opposite direction.”
The Manukau Rd building has an Historic Places Category 2 classification, which requires that its front façade remains intact as the foundation of any multi-storey redevelopment.
Heritage New Zealand says the classification recognises the property’s “aesthetic value as a building of striking visual appearance and its historical architecture value demonstrates the importance and evolution of the postal services and their role in New Zealand society.”
Says Chan: “Resources consent has already been granted to undertake a substantial redevelopment at the rear of the existing structure.
“These plans fully comply with Heritage New Zealand‘s requirements for wholly preserving the post office’s street facade and frontal portion in their current state. 
“The architecturally-designed plans are for a ground level retail/residential use with four levels of apartments or accommodation above, for an estimated gross floor plan of 2304sq m. These consented plans are included in the sale.”
The  property has a 100 per cent of new building standard (NBS) rating. The ground floor comprises 365sq m, while the first floor has 90sq m. An area at the rear of the building offers parking space for 10 vehicles.
 Lee said the building was being sold ‘as vacant’, with only one tenant on a rolling monthly lease paying the equivalent of $14,920 plus GST per annum.
“This arrangement also opens up the potential for the site to be purchased by an owner-occupier looking to relocate into a high-profile, city-fringe commercial premises.  
“The building’s interior received a major refurbishment some eight years ago, which encompassed a complete upgrading of the telecommunications and data cabling, the installation of double-glazed windows, and the connection of 12 heat pumps,” said Lee.