Cuba St building unleashed on market

5:54 PM Tuesday July 17, 2018 Colin Taylor

On the western side of Cuba St in a block that extends from Vivian St to Abel Smith St. Photo / Supplied

A double-storey building in the heritage-designated Cuba Street Historic Area, designed by an early 20thcentury architect and now home to the Black Dog craft beer brewery, is to be auctioned.

Johnny Curtis and Ethan Hourigan of Bayleys Wellington are marketing the property, which is on the western side of Cuba St in a block that extends from Vivian St to Abel Smith St. It will go under the hammer at 11am on Thursday, August 16. 

Black Dog craft beer brewery, owned by DB Breweries, has occupied the site since April this year. It has a brewery on the ground floor producing small batch beers, while upstairs there’s a tasting room and bar with 16 taps showcasing Black Dog’s core range and experimental one-off brews.

An internal stairway links the ground floor and first floor, and there is also a stairway from the street. Rear courtyard access is via the ground floor. The floor area of the building is 148sq m, the courtyard is 62sq m and the land size is 143sq m.

Curtis says the property earns net rent of $104,381 per annum with DB Breweries Limited having a six-year lease from September 2017, with two further six-year rights of renewal.

The building at 216 Cuba St was constructed in 1920 and was one of the earlier works by noted architect, William Gray Young.

Young is renowned for a broad portfolio of Wellington buildings including the neo-classical Wellington Railway Station buildings, the Wellesley Club which is regarded as a masterpiece in Georgian precision, The Wellington Boys' Institute building in Tasman St, the Christopher Wren-influenced Scots College, and Victoria University residential hostel, Weir House. 

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It will go under the hammer at 11am on Thursday, August 16. Photo / Supplied

In 1936, Young was invited to work with the government architect in designing prototype state houses and some of these are to be found in Patrick St, Petone; understood to be the first street in New Zealand to have state housing.

The quaint classical masonry building in Cuba St is Edwardian in style and is listed with Heritage New Zealand as a Category 2 building. 

It has benefitted from a comprehensive seismic strengthening programme thanks in part to grants under the Wellington City Council’s Built Heritage Incentive Fund, which allocates money to assist owners in maintaining heritage properties.

A textbook example of how Council and private owners can work together to protect the city’s built heritage, 216 Cuba St is now at 80 per cent of the National Building Standards (NBS) with new internal concrete frame ties to ground anchors, designed to maintain the exterior of the building.

Curtis says Bayleys last sold the property in March 2013 when it was partly-tenanted by the well-known florist shop, Flowers by Manuela, which had occupied the site for around 15 years.

Robert Douglas and Sarah Harrow purchased the building knowing that it needed seismic strengthening – or faced demolition. 

“The property is credited with having a well-proportioned facade and strong streetscape value which contributes to the look and feel of historic Cuba Street,” says Curtis.

“The owners invested heavily in the refurbishment of the property and their proactivity has saved a valuable piece of central Wellington’s history.”

According to Wellington City Council website case study on the property, 216 Cuba St was once home to Jet Dry Cleaners, before falling into disrepair. According to a letter received by the Council from an irate neighbour in 1967, the building had become a “burnt out old shell and a haven to alcoholics and a playground for vandals and small children”.

In latter years it was the premises for a pastry maker, housed Atkinson Electrical Company in the 1950s, Arctech Studios in the 1980s, and Flowers Manuela until it was vacated in 2015.