Landmark Auckland Queen St building

5:22 PM Friday September 8, 2017 True Commercial

Blackett’s Building on the corner of Queen and Shortland Sts has a lettable area of about 910sq m. Photo / Supplied

Auckland city’s historic Blackett’s Building, on the corner of Queen and Shortland Sts, is for sale by tender.

The freehold character property, which earns net annual rent of $956,485, is being marketed by Henry Thompson of Whillans Realty Group, with tenders closing on September 28.

Thompson says the renovated property has a 67 per cent New Building Standard (NBS) seismic rating and is fully leased.

Located in a high pedestrian area with about 23,000 people passing the building daily, Blackett’s Building is anchored by longstanding tenant Florsheim Shoes and two other ground floor retail tenants, Johnstons Cashmere and Sail Away Souvenirs, which have entered into new 12-year-leases from September 1, 2018.

“With 82 per cent of the income derived from the ground floor retail, the property delivers investors an exceptional 11-year weighted average lease term,” says Thompson.

“In addition, 94 per cent of the income is subject to annual fixed 3 per cent rent reviews, providing an in-built level of growth.

“Lower Queen St retail has been one of the best performing property markets in New Zealand. Over the last five years, Queen St retail rents have seen annual double digit rental growth and command the highest rental rates per square metre in the country.”

Built in the 1800s, the Blackett’s Building comprises a riveted steel frame with concrete floors and has about 910sq m of lettable area. The building underwent a major renovation in 1998. This included a complete overhaul of the building services, restoration of the interior and repainting of the facade.

Thompson says the Blackett’s Building is steeped in history, one of only a handful of buildings in Queen St over a hundred years old.

Completed in 1879 as the head office for the South British Insurance Company, it was was designed by prominent Auckland architect Richard Keals, who founded the oldest firm of architects in the city. It is the only remaining example of his work in the central city.

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Built in the 1800s, Blackett’s Building is one of few buildings in Queen St over 100 years old. Photo / Supplied

The Blackett’s Building was originally designed in a Victorian Italianate style as three-storey office accommodation with ground floor retail and was one of Auckland’s first highly ornamented buildings.

In 1912, a fourth level was added, complementing the existing style. A lift was installed at the same time.

The South British Insurance Company was founded by a group of wealthy Auckland businessmen in 1872 to provide fire and marine insurance. In a town built of timber and supplied largely by sea, this was a profitable enterprise that expanded rapidly to become a worldwide venture.

Given the nature the business and its clients, the Blackett’s Building was constructed of fireproof brick and decorated with unusually ornate plasterwork for the period. The company vacated the premises for much larger headquarters in 1929.

Today the ground floor accommodates the three retail shops, two of which have access to a basement storage area.

A separate foyer adjacent to Shortland St gives access to the lift and stairwell. This connects the upper floors of the building with the street level. The first, second and third floors are of a similar rectangular shape with each floor having about 150sq m of net lettable area. The fourth floor is slightly back from the parapet with approximately 107sq m of internal floor area.

Thompson says the location in the heart of Auckland city can’t be faulted. The Blackett’s Building is surrounded by a mix of major national and international flagship stores that house New Zealand’s largest concentration of international luxury brands such as Prada, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Mont Blanc, R.M. Williams, Swarovski and Gucci.

“Longer term, the property could be redeveloped into a flagship store for an international retailer,” Thompson says.

In October 2018, a new 18,000sq m shopping mall will open at Commercial Bay. This will be anchored by a flagship H&M store about 200m north on Queen St. The property is less than five minutes’ walk from the Britomart train station and the downtown ferry terminal. Earmarked for completion in 2023, the new underground Central Rail Link will double the capacity of the existing rail network.

“This will halve commuting times for people living in the western suburbs and on completion, the Blackett’s Building will be strategically positioned less than 300m from two of the city’s busiest underground train stations. Plus there are seven major public car parking buildings within a 250m radius.”