Auckland Council staff put options for the now-defunct civic administration building on the edge of Aotea Square to councillors at a workshop yesterday, and followed up with a media briefing.
They’ll take a report to the council’s Auckland development committee next month, but so far haven’t stated a preference for any course.
[There should be 6 images with this presentation, but I’ve transferred them wrongly – will get the others up later today. The one image here is a potential option 1.]
The former Auckland City Council headquarters building was designed in the 1950s, completed in 1966, has no heritage status but council heritage staff believe it could qualify as category B (limited protection) or possibly category A.
It’s been abandoned in the last 6 months as council staff have transferred to the former ASB Bank headquarters building on the corner of Wellesley, Albert & Federal Sts, and will be completely emptied out next month.
The council faces a predicament if it wants the building to be re-used: some 300 tonnes of asbestos have been removed but the steel frame was coated in asbestos and taking the rest of that out would require pulling off the façade. However, the façade happens to be one of the features that would justify heritage status.
The building also has leaks and requires seismic strengthening to get it to 67% of new building standard, let alone the hugely expensive wider strengthening works to get it to 100% of that standard.
Auckland Council Property Ltd chief executive David Rankin led a presentation yesterday outlining some of these difficulties, but also some of the possibilities for a revamped building or useable site if it’s demolished, the potential for the building to play a role as accommodation or possible office space if it was retained, and possibly providing studio space for the Philharmonic Orchestra or Royal NZ Ballet in a revitalised cultural quarter.
The city centre masterplan envisages development of the Aotea Quarter as the civic & cultural heart of the city centre, increasing what it offers through existing facilities (for one, the Aotea Centre is due for substantial renewal works) & creation of new facilities.
Regional Facilities Auckland put a proposal to councillors for this spot to be a hub in an entertainment & arts district.
Mr Rankin said developers saw the floorplates of the council building as too small for modern office users, although there are plenty of older spaces around the cbd which have been given new life by business clusters rather than large corporates.
Developers not surprisingly also turned their noses up at leasing the building or land from the council, although the council-controlled Waterfront Auckland has successfully created a leasehold structure which is helping to draw investment into the Wynyard Quarter.
Auckland Council Property estimates that full refurbishment to modern office & building code requirements would cost $78 million, a residential conversion would cost $60 million, demolition would cost $11.5 million and site reinstatement another $12.5 million.
Attribution: Council releases, presentation.