Parnell site returns to market after 120 years

12:47 PM Saturday July 12, 2014 Colin Taylor

A Parnell site with resource consent for a 7800sq m commercial office building has become available for redevelopment for the first time in 120 years.

The 3502sq m site at 97-115 The Strand is being marketed on behalf of the Dilworth Trust board by John Green of Colliers International who, with colleague Andrew Reed, is offering the property for sale by private treaty closing on July 17.

The freehold property has been owned by the trust since its establishment in 1894 following the death of Auckland pioneer and philanthropist James Dilworth.

"This sale represents a rare opportunity for an investor or developer to acquire one of the most desirable sites on the fringe of the CBD for the first time in more than a century," Green says.

"The Dilworth Trust has obtained resource consent for a landmark 7800sq m five-star green-rated commercial office building that would be a trophy property in any investor's portfolio.

"The trust has decided to divest the land to concentrate on other investments paving the way for a buyer to develop an architecturally stunning new building in a strategic and high-profile location where there is a critical shortage of premium and A-grade office space.

"New buildings are particularly attractive to tenants, commanding a significant premium in rents over existing buildings."

The property has two older buildings and one constructed about 1999, with short-term leases providing holding annual income of $322,000. A two-level building at the western side of the site is leased to furniture retailer Mattisse, with showroom and storage space totalling 1121sq m. the more modern building of 353sq m is leased to Pt Chev Nominees trading as Liquorland. The third building, at 107-115 The Strand, is part-leased to Mattisse and Liquorland for storage and has a floor area of 2033sq m plus mezzanine office of 189sq m. The leases expire next August, with early termination if either party gives at least four months' notice.

Green says the proposal for the site is a four-level mixed use building. "The external materials, made of terracotta panels and precast concrete, give a contemporary interpretation of the brick and plaster buildings in the neighbouring area. The building concept includes a striking facade created by an elegant pattern of glazed vertical fins, maximising the outlook and daylight penetration while providing solar control. These features are enhanced by a central atrium that forms the heart of the building, giving staff a place to socialise and circulate and creating visual links to the entry lobby and upper office space.

"The ground floor spaces would be suitable for retail operations with their own entrance and displays opening directly to the street," he says. The planned development would include 168 onsite covered secure car parks along with space for bike storage, showers and lockers.

Reed says the site is ideal for the building proposed and the project fits in well with the "gentrification" of Parnell.

"Parnell has undergone a rapid transformation from light industrial to the more intensive retail, residential and commercial office use due to its prime location near the Auckland CBD and its excellent transportation links," he says. "Parnell is a very desirable location for commercial property owners being near several parks, boutique retailers, art galleries and a number of cafes and restaurants.

"The property's location gives it close links to the north-south State Highway 1 and northwestern SH16 motorway while The Strand itself is a major arterial route linking the Ports of Auckland and the eastern suburbs to the motorway systems. Additionally Parnell will soon have its own railway station."

Reed says that in commercial terms Parnell is an outstanding location with all the advantages of a CBD site, but with plenty of on-site parking and quicker access to motorways.

Ian Redshaw, head of property for the Dilworth Trust, says the resource consent for the proposed building is a valuable asset to the buyer.

"In order to obtain resource consent, we had to gain permission from the owners of the beautiful Dilworth Terrace properties above the site, which the Dilworth Trust developed at the turn of the century. At the time these were seaside homes on the original Auckland foreshore. Subsequently, all of the land from Ports of Auckland to The Strand was reclaimed to make room for the growth of the CBD. We were very sensitive to the need to preserve the views from surrounding homes and the historic character of the neighbourhood, and we designed the building carefully to meet these objectives.

"At the time we were planning this building, tenancy demand was very weak. Now the market has changed, confidence is very strong and tenants are committing to leases two years in advance of their moves. It's a very good time to build and this will make an excellent passive long-term investment.

"The high profile frontage to The Strand, good transportation links to the CBD and motorways, and its close access to the waterfront makes this a prime site for a commercial building which is one of the main reasons we selected it for redevelopment. Our decision to divest the land has created an opportunity for the buyer to acquire what we consider to be one of the best redevelopment sites in the city."

Green says the property will generate serious interest from primarily Auckland-based investors and developers and its redevelopment will spur the continued revitalisation of Parnell.