Edinburgh Castle king of key corner

5:00 AM Saturday September 26, 2015 Colin Taylor

The 150-year-old Edinburgh Castle Hotel at 215 Symonds St.

The 150 year old Edinburgh Castle Hotel, one of Auckland’s few remaining nineteenth century hotels, is among over 20 commercial and industrial properties that will go under the hammer next month as part of Bayleys’ latest Total Property portfolio auction.

Standing at 215 Symonds Street, Eden Terrace, the historic two storey building, on a 571 sq m corner site at the intersection with Newton Rd, is fully leased to a food, beverage and residential accommodation business and earns net rental income of $145,000 per annum plus GST.

The property is being marketed by Cameron Melhuish and Andrew Wallace of Bayleys Auckland and will go up for auction on October 28 unless sold earlier by negotiation.

“The hotel has huge profile on a prime corner site with wide frontages to both Symonds Street and Newton Road - two very busy roads,” says Melhuish. “It offers a number of future added value options given its strategic positioning in a popular CBD fringe location that will continue to undergo major expansion and population growth.”

Melhuish says the tightly held surrounding Upper Symonds Street commercial precinct features a range of speciality retail stores and well known cafes, bars and restaurants including long standing tenants like The French Café and Galbraiths.

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An elevated view depicting the corner setting of the Edinburgh Castle hotel.  

“One of the drivers of the precinct’s growth is the huge exposure retailers are given to passing vehicles.. The major arterials of Symonds Street, Newton Road and Khyber Pass carry high traffic flows providing good access to the Auckland CBD, Mt Eden, Newmarket, Kingsland and Grey Lynn and Ponsonby.

“Also benefitting the retail and hospitality sector is the continuing growth of the surrounding residential area, particularly Eden Terrace itself where numerous apartment developments have sprung up over recent years around nearby Basque Park, with more under development. The 2013 Census showed a 31 per cent increase in the local residential population from the Census in 2006.

“The Edinburgh Castle forms part of an increasingly vibrant commercial precinct which continues to grow and is supported by the proactive Uptown Business Association which has some ambitious plans for the area.”

The hotel operates as sports bar with a large bar and restaurant on the 420 sq m ground floor, accessed from Symonds Street. The fit out incudes a high quality sound system and wall mounted flat screen televisions. A separate casino gaming room is located within the bar which is licensed for 18 gaming machines. There is also a restaurant grade kitchen and a large function room overlooking Newton Road.   

Off the main bar area and at the rear of the property is a 66 sq m courtyard which provides a pleasant outdoor area for patrons and a one car garage accessed off Newton Road.

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 A bar area within the Edinburgh Castle Hotel.

The entire property is leased to New Skyworld Bar and Hotel Ltd which in July exercised the first of four three-year rights of renewal.

“With the established tenant having just renewed for a further term, the property presents an opportunity for the next owner to enjoy the cash flow and watch this location continue to take shape as the Edinburgh Castle has over the last 150 years,” says Wallace

“Longer term, the property has considerable added value potential. It has a Mixed Use zoning allowing for commercial and residential activities with a Town Centre zoning under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan which will increase the current height limit to 16.5 metres, permitting buildings of up to four storeys.”

The Edinburgh Castle is the first and only survivor of several hotels built in Upper Symonds Street in the late 19th century. According to the Timespanner website, two lots of land on which the hotel was built were sold to builder Andrew Clow for 440 pounds and 15 shillings in 1864. The land and all the buildings on it were sold for 2000 pounds to farmer Thomas Aitken in 1865 who successfully applied for a licence for the Edinburgh Castle hotel despite opposition from nearby residents who objected that it would interfere with the peace of the neighbourhood.

Aitken didn’t remain associated with the Edinburgh Castle for long. Another hotel, the Eden Vine, was opened nearby by William Galbraith in 1866 and Aitken defaulted on mortgages and lost title in 1886 to publican John Clark.

Several additions and alterations to the wooden hotel were made in the 1880s and it had a number of licensees before Clark sold it to the Great Northern Brewery in the late 1890s. That company undertook further additions to the hotel in 1914 while at the same time selling part of the original site. New Zealand Breweries took over the hotel in the 1970s.

Andrew Wallace says plaster now covers the building’s wooden construction but it retains much of its original appearance and character. He says the building has a high seismic rating for a structure of its age, with a recent Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP) assessment of 70 per cent of New Building Standard (NBS). 

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Andrew Wallace (left) and Cameron Melhuish (right) of Bayleys.

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