Refurbished and new Takapuna buildings

10:00 AM Wednesday April 22, 2015 Colin Taylor

Artist’s impression of a planned new building ‘3 Fred Thomas Drive’ in Takapuna on which construction will commence within three months.

A decision by Smales Farm investors to expand their Takapuna property holdings by acquiring and refurbishing two older buildings in Fred Thomas Drive has brought fresh space to the market at a time when the ‘No Vacancy’ sign is up at the nearby flagship Smales Farm development.

Daniel Henderson, general manager of Smales Farm, says the group recognised potential in the buildings because of their location close to the State Highway One motorway, to Takapuna and Smales Farm. They also offered good car parking and the opportunity to add a further building to the site.

The two properties, a three-level, 1980s’ constructed office building at 4 Fred Thomas Drive and a former bowling alley building at 2 Fred Thomas Drive, were acquired in a receivership sale.

In between them, a new building designated ‘3 Fred Thomas Drive’ will be built with construction work expected to commence in the next three months.

This will complete the development and have a substantial medical tenant anchoring its ground floor. The new building will also add a further 122 car parks to bring the total car parks available on the combined Fred Thomas Drive site to over 450.

The major makeover of the 9176 sq m premises at 4 Fred Thomas Drive has includedinstalling new lifts, air-conditioning and security systems, new flooring and doors, a completely remodelled foyer and feature lighting. Outside, a new landscaping plan along with repairs and painting has given the building a fresh, clean look.

“The beautiful, classically-designed building at 4 Fred Thomas Drive has very large floor plates but it had been poorly maintained and managed,” says Henderson.

Smales Farm appointed architects Stephenson & Turner NZ to help develop a creative concept for the building to enable it to reach its full potential.

“It was important that we improved not only the appearance of the building but also its operating efficiency which is a major consideration for occupants these days,” Henderson says. “Everything we did had to be energy efficient such as replacing the foyer lights with new, longer life LED ones and changing the previous 450 watt external lamps to 75 watt ones to provide the same light output. The new lifts are also significantly more energy efficient.”

4 Fred Thomas Drive, Takapuna - exterior.jpg

Exterior view of refurbished building at 4 Fred Thomas Drive

Henderson says the building, which has an A-plus seismic rating, has been modernised everywhere it can be to bring it up to an ‘as new’ quality property. This enabled new long term leases to be negotiated with a number of the existing tenants and has also attracted new tenants. Some rejigging of tenancies has also opened up 2700 sq m of space on the top floor which Bayleys leasing agent Paul Hain says makes it the largest single office floor area currently available for immediate occupation in the Auckland market. It is featured in Bayleys’ latest Office Leasing Focus magazine which was released last Friday.

Smales Farm has also given the 5225 sq m building at 2 Fred Thomas Drive a $6 million upgrade, transforming the dark bowling alley into high end medical services and large floor plate office space which is now fully let. The concrete bunker like ground level has been fully glazed and made accessible by a surrounding decked footpath that leads to the entry foyer. Henderson says the building is now well recognized as a quality office and health services hub with a medical centre, pharmacy, cafe, physiotherapy and radiology centre on the ground floor offering access to a number of co-located medical services all with convenient parking.

New access control, building management and closed circuit television security systems installed at both 2 and 4 Fred Thomas Drive allow each tenant to adjust temperature controls and set their own security levels for staff, visitor management and access. Hain says the large floor areas, cost-effective rental and operating expenses and generous car parking have provided 2 and 4 Fred Thomas Drive with a point of difference in the market.

He says a continuing strong demand for a diminishing supply of good quality office accommodation is providing the impetus for a number of owners of older but well located buildings to upgrade their premises to A- plus grade quality.