Published 7 September 2018
The large site occupied by Hopetoun Alpha on Beresford Square, at the top of the Auckland cbd, has gone on the market with heritage protection on the historic structure.
The 142-year-old building, originally the St James Church, sits on 3114m² at 15-27 Beresford Square and also fronts Hopetoun & Pitt Sts near the intersection of Pitt St & Karangahape Rd. It’s one of New Zealand’s oldest surviving examples of a building constructed of poured concrete.
Bayleys’ Auckland city & fringe commercial team manager, Alan Haydock, said today: “The building has a high level of heritage protection and will remain a permanent feature of the property & the area. However, Hopetoun Alpha is near the top of the eastern side of the sloping site. There is a large amount of land below it, currently used for causal carparking, which would provide a superb residential &/or commercial development opportunity under its city centre zoning.
“It’s one of only a few quality larger sites which remain available for development in the inner city. The property’s unobstructed north-facing corner position means it would offer panoramic harbour & cbd views. Also increasing its development appeal are multiple road frontages & access points.”
Bayleys is taking the property to tender, closing on Wednesday 26 September.
Auckland businessman & philanthropist Ashton Wylie bought the old church in 1994 to restore & preserve it, and the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust has owned it since he died in 1999. The building has an Historic Places grade 1 rating, and Auckland Council lists it as a category A heritage building.
Mr Haydock said: “This iconic character building has been meticulously refurbished & maintained by the trust and has been rented out to church groups and for one-off events. It is being offered for sale with vacant possession.”
Wilson Parking NZ Ltd has a lease over the undeveloped land until December 2019, with one 2-year right of renewal. It’s generating holding income of $105,000/year + gst. However, a clause in the lease enables it to be terminated if the site is to be redeveloped.
The city centre zoning allows for intensive commercial & residential development up to 35m high, but a volcanic viewshaft restricts development to 27-30m high over part of the site.
The neo-classical Hopetoun Alpha building was constructed as The Beresford St Congregationalist Church in a Grecian Doric style. 6 fluted columns support the portico at the front entrance. The church has a large hall & gallery, added in the 1880s, & 6 large windows down each side.
Heritage NZ says the building is largely in its original condition and its special features are its classical design & use of concrete construction.
The Congregationalist Independents initially wanted a masonry building, but cost constraints meant a radical new building material was considered. This material was poured concrete, which had previously only been used in Auckland to build 2 houses. The church comprised a framed structure infilled with concrete made of 6 parts of scoria ash & one of Portland cement.
The opening of the church on 19 March 1876, attended by 300 people, was led by Sir George Grey, at the time superintendent of the Auckland Province, who became prime minister the following year.
In 1925, it became the first church to broadcast a service live around New Zealand.
Attribution: Bayleys release.