Parnell land a track to developer’s dream

9:00 AM Saturday April 11, 2015 Colin Taylor

Aerial view of 23 Cheshire St, Parnell, development site at centre of image.

An opportunity to master-plan and develop a major mixed-use project around the proposed Parnell Station is on offer through the sale of a large parcel of land next to Auckland Domain.

The freehold 2.3 hectare site, located on KiwiRail land at at 23 Cheshire St, Parnell, just 200 metres from Parnell Village, is for sale by tender closing on May 21 through John Holmes, John Schellekens and Brent McGregor, senior managing director of CBRE.  

Andrew Robinson, national manager – property investment and revenue for KiwiRail, says the land was flagged for possible sale a number of years ago. “We recognise the potential future use of rail land so we’re putting it on the open market after having had extensive conversations with interested parties.

“As a State Owned Enterprise, we need to act commercially and will be reinvesting the money from the sale into network-wide improvements. It’s a large site in a central location which will have good transport connections once the railway station is built.”

The brownfield site houses several existing buildings and is occupied by the Mainline Steam Heritage Trust which is currently searching for alternative premises.

The new Parnell Station is also earmarked to be the new home of the original Newmarket station building which has been in storage since 2008. The heritage structure was designed by Sir George Troup, chief engineer for the New Zealand Railways Department, and built in 1908.

Holmes says the property’s size and location makes for an excellent development opportunity.

“The site is one of the largest available freehold land holdings within a two kilometer radius of the city centre and it’s rare to be able to purchase a site of this size in the centre of Auckland – particularly on the fringe of the CBD.”

Schellekens says council plans for Parnell Station are back on the table so the site offers the chance for a buyer to plan a transit-oriented development,

“The fact that enabling works have commenced means this is a particularly attractive proposition for developers,” he says. “It has the potential to become a major central-city transport node.”

McGregor says anticipated passenger numbers passing through the station make a transit-oriented development a compelling option for the site. “Such a development could include cafes, restaurants, shops, key services and apartments and/or townhouses.

He says more than 2000 passengers are forecast to disembark at Parnell station during the morning peak, according to Auckland Transport. Three quarters of those passengers are expected to head across Grafton Gully to the universities – taking pressure off Britomart Station.

23 Cheshire St, Parnell - aerial - site for sale blue coloured.jpg

Aerial view of 23 Cheshire St with development site for sale shaded in blue.  

“Construction of the station is expected to be a key enabler in the regeneration of this part of Parnell. It will service and integrate the local residential and commercial communities and surrounding amenities with its close access to the Auckland Domain, museum, the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology and the Parnell shopping strip,” McGregor says.

Cheryl Adamson, general manager of Parnell Inc, says the focus for many years has been on the north/south connection to the city and Newmarket via Parnell Rd. “The station, together with our planned expansion of the Business Improvement District boundary will enable us to enlarge our vision and include east/west connectivity across the entire Parnell precinct.”

Holmes says KiwiRail has already submitted to have the underlying zoning under the Proposed Unitary Plan (PAUP) changed to ‘mixed use’ to facilitate development.

“A mixed use zoning is consistent with the adjoining properties to the east and would provide for a wide range of commercial and residential uses on the site.”

Schellekens says the zone change would open up the site’s potential uses significantly. “It is envisaged that with new zoning in place, the new owner will have multiple options to create a mixed-use community that will become an attractive and convenient place to live, as well as providing shops, services, cafes and vastly-improved transport infrastructure.”

McGregor says the site has an urban location on the CBD fringe in one of the most sought-after inner city suburbs in Auckland. He notes the site has direct access to Auckland Domain and Stanley Street via an underpass.

“Parnell has long been a desirable address for businesses and residents, given its location only two kilometres from the city centre and its well-known high street containing many popular shops, bars and restaurants.”

Holmes says Parnell has a larger proportion of residents with higher average incomes along with people aged between 20 and 34 and a larger proportion of couples without children.

“Parnell is characterised by large numbers of young professionals with disposable income, who enjoy living in the suburb because it is close to the CBD and has numerous bars, cafes and restaurants. This demographic would be an ideal target market for apartments or townhouses on the station site.

“Recreational amenities including the Parnell Baths, the rose gardens, Judges Bay and the ASB Tennis Centre with its gymnasium and pool are also within easy reach of the station site,” Holmes says.

Brent McGregor, senior managing director CBRE.jpg

Brent McGregor, senior managing director of CBRE.