Quadrant’s historic Newman Hall for sale

5:00 AM Saturday November 5, 2016 True Commercial

An elevated view of the property at 16 Waterloo Quadrant identified by a white border.

One of the largest freehold development sites left in the Auckland CBD, overlooking Old Government House and Albert Park, is for sale for the first time in 100 years.

Known as Newman Hall, the 1779sq m property at 16 Waterloo Quadrant is being sold by Bruce Whillans and colleague Brice Clark, of Whillans Realty Group, through a tender process, which closes on December 1.

Whillans says Newman Hall was built for L D Nathan in the 1860s and, while part of the landmark Georgian building is protected, it could form the entrance to a hotel, residential apartment development or student accommodation.

Under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan the site has a 50m height limit and a maximum floor area ratio (MFAR) of 8:1.

“Waterloo Quadrant was once home to Government House and the Supreme Court but, towards the end of the 19th century it became an exclusive residential address for the city’s captains of industry,” says Whillans.

“Today this position is even more strategic. It is directly adjacent to the University of Auckland Law Library and spans Auckland’s financial, legal and university precincts.

“It is about five-minutes’ walk away from Queen Street, Britomart and the main University of Auckland campus.

“It is a mere 30m from the five-star Pullman hotel and five public carparks are within about 200m.

“There are uninterrupted views over Albert Park and its elevated north facing position will give some spectacular views towards the Waitemata Harbour on its upper floors,” says Whillans.

Clark says the property has the advantage of a holding income of $100,000, with the Catholic Diocesan Church taking a one-year leaseback over the property, to allow a new owner some time to get a development scheme in place for the freehold site.

He believes the best use of the site, given its location next to the University of Auckland, would be for student accommodation which is highly sought after in the central city.

Auckland faces ongoing capacity constraints for student accommodation, having strong enrolment growth and not enough beds available to meet even existing student numbers.

However, the site would also suit a hotel or apartment development as it is situated right in the core of Auckland’s CBD and the city also has a shortage of hotel rooms - having the highest occupancy rate across all of New Zealand’s major centres.

During the year ending September 2016, Auckland had an average occupancy rate of 85 per cent says Clark.

Newman Hall is one of the oldest character buildings in central Auckland and the property on which it stands was included in the city’s first land sale. A small cottage on the site is recorded as having sold on April 19, 1841, he says.

In the 1850s the site was sold to David Nathan, already an influential captain of industry at that time, whose family went on to establish Nathan Breweries.

In 1864 Nathan completed a large Georgian style, two-level mansion with a basement cellar. “This original building is a Category A historic heritage listed building under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan and the operative scheme,” Clark says.

In 1895, the Nathan home was converted into a 40-unit apartment building, known as Bella Vista.

By 1915 it had been sold to Thomas Buxton, who added a new extension to the building, taking the total number of rooms from 40 to 60.

“This extension is not a protected heritage feature, however the land upon which the extension sits is classified as a heritage extent of place,” Clark adds.

In December 1947, the Buxton family transferred the ownership of 16 Waterloo Quadrant to the Roman Catholic Church for religious charitable and educational purposes.

Newman Hall, named after Cardinal John Newman, was officially opened as a social, cultural and educational instruction centre for Catholic tertiary students in 1962, says Clark.

“Today the 1860s’ building retains many of its original heritage features, including sash windows on the ground floor, timber skirting boards, timber wall panelling, decorative cornices and pressed metal rose ceilings.”