Post office puts stamp on Hastings history

7:36 PM Friday August 9, 2019 True Commercial

The old Hastings Post Office has been a medical centre since the 1990s. Photo / Supplied

The former Hastings Post Office is for sale, presenting a chance to reposition or redevelop a  heritage building in the heart of the city.
Located on the corner of Queen and Russell streets, the property is described by Heritage New Zealand as one of the most historically important buildings in Hastings.
Built in 1932, it is an excellent example of the Stripped Classical style  often used for government buildings at the time.
The property, at 101 Queen St East,  comprises a 2730sq m, two-level building on a 2505sq m freehold site with 44 car parks. It is fitted out as a medical practice. Says Colliers International broker Danny Blair, who is marketing the property: “It  is offered for sale with vacant possession, allowing a new owner to immediately add value through repositioning or redeveloping.
“There is particularly good conversion potential, given the lack of residential and short-stay accommodation in central Hastings.
“Preliminary architectural plans, commissioned by the vendor, envision a 22-unit apartment conversion on the first floor.
“A new owner could develop these plans to create a boutique accommodation offering with undeniable heritage appeal. “Alternatively, there is scope to reposition the property as a character office space.”
The property is a short distance to the town centre and only a one-minute walk to Bay Plaza,  the largest food court in the Hawke’s Bay.
Blair says the property has played a crucial role in Hastings’ municipal history. “The first post office on the site was built in 1910, after the previous building on Station St became too small.
“It was designed by government architect John Campbell, who included a clock tower in the Edwardian Baroque style.” The 1914 Hawke’s Bay earthquake rattled the building so badly that the clock chimed more than 100 times, prompting fears the tower might collapse  in another quake.
Alterations to address public safety concerns were followed by further work in 1928. Three years later the building was badly damaged in the 1931 earthquake. 
It was rebuilt without a clock tower in 1932. The restored clock was later installed in a new tower, built as a memorial to the quake, next to the Hastings Railway Station.
The post office operated  until the late 1990s, after which it was bought  by the Wallace Development Company and  refurbished as a medical centre.
The alterations, designed by Chibnall Swann Team Architecture, preserved the building’s character façade and parts of the interior, with the bank vault being repurposed as an x-ray room.
The refurbishment won the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay local award.
Blair says the building’s use as a medical facility means its presentation is superior to many other buildings of such character.