Hot chance in the old fire station

10:25 AM Saturday August 2, 2014 Colin Taylor

The old Ponsonby Fire Station.

The historic Auckland building that started life in 1902 as the old Ponsonby fire station and has more recently housed a series of restaurants is for sale for the first time in 46 years.

"It is one of three buildings making up a historic precinct, the other two being the Ponsonby Post Office and the Leys Institute library," said Reese Barragar, commercial and industrial broker with Barfoot & Thompson Commercial.

Barragar and colleague Scott Whitten are marketing the property for sale by auction at 10.30am on Wednesday, August 13, at Barfoot & Thompson's auction room at 34 Shortland St.

"Since the fire brigade moved in 1923, the building has been used for a variety of activities, but for the last 30 years or so it has been occupied by a series of restaurants including Raffles, Plusone and, most recently, the upmarket Japanese restaurant Soto," Barragar said.

"It is being sold with vacant possession, but some restaurant fit-out remains and could be used by a new owner or occupier.

"Alternatively, the building could be removed to provide upmarket character office space or accommodation that takes advantage of the property's rear courtyard."

The building, on a 295sq m freehold site with a total rentable floor area of 241sq m including a 20sq m deck, has brick walls and long-run steel roofing that was replaced about a year ago.

A feature of the interior is the polished wooden floors.

"The building is scheduled for heritage protection but it appears the interior is excluded from this protection," Barragar said.

"It is a beautiful standalone character property that offers a new owner the opportunity to occupy, invest or redevelop."

Whitten said the property was on the western fringe of the Auckland CBD within the "hot" Three Lamps commercial and retail strip in Ponsonby.

"This is a popular city fringe location characterised by a mix of boutique retail outlets, popular cafes and restaurants, renovated villas, offices and apartments," he said.

"It is a 'must see' for a restaurant or hospitality business owner looking for a prime freehold building to purchase and occupy.

" It is also ideal for an astute investor seeking a property that is like no other to lease or for possible conversion into up-market residential."

The old Ponsonby fire station is opposite the Leys Institute, which has housed Ponsonby's library since 1905, and is next to St Marys Reserve.

Barragar says public transport in the area along major arterial routes is excellent and the general locality is convenient from both business and residential perspectives because it is close to the CBD.

"Access to and from the State Highway One motorway network in a northerly direction is within 1.5km, and access to the motorway in a southerly direction is within 2km. The Auckland CBD is about 2.5km to the east."

New developments in the area which are likely to enhance the value of the old fire station include the Ponsonby Central food, retail and market, the Lot 3 retail and commercial project, Vinegar Lane, Mansons TCLM's new "The Boutique" apartment complex, Willis Bond's new waterfront development in the Wynyard Quarter and Goodman's new Fonterra office development.

"The property is close to the neighbouring affluent suburbs of Herne Bay, St Marys Bay, Viaduct Harbour, Freemans Bay and Westhaven," Barragar said.

Whitten said the site was zoned Residential 7A, which provides for a variety of building types and intensity, including high-rise and high-density developments.

"A 10m height limit is applied to areas considered appropriate for high-density development," Whitten said.

"The zone sits apart from other residential zones because it contains substantially more intense development which is often on smaller sites with minimal open space.

"As a consequence, the zoned controls seek to maximise design flexibility.

"The density applied is expected to facilitate more intensive development in areas near major public transport routes, near major commercial centres and in areas where the local environment and infrastructure are able to accommodate the level of additional development envisaged.

"Under the proposed Unitary Plan the property zoning will change to Town Centre Zone and an increased 12.5m height limit will be applied, which is seen as a positive investment feature."