The sale of the Civic Administration Building in Aotea Square has paved the way for a $200m to $300m development in the cultural heart of the city.

The developer, Tawera Group, plans to remove asbestos from the Civic Building and convert the office tower into apartments with bars, restaurants and cafes at ground level.

The sale includes 5000sq m of land, which will be used for a boutique, 100-room hotel fronting Mayoral Drive and a retail/office/apartment tower on the Mayoral Drive/Greys Ave corner.

A building featuring a “whare tapere” performance space fronting Aotea Square will be built on land surrounding the Civic. A total of 120 homes are planned.

The “Civic Quarter” project “will blend an iconic Auckland landmark with cutting-edge design ensuring that the Aotea Quarter becomes a must-visit destination”, says Tawera Group principal John Love.

Love was keen for the sale price to be kept confidential in final negotiations with the council’s Panuku Development Auckland, but last night Panuku’s project director Clive Fuhr said the sale price would be made public.

Mayor Len Brown was also keen to maintain transparency around the sale for part of Aotea Square, which he called a “critical part of the heart of our city”.

The $27.2m sale of another civic space – Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties for a commercial development – was made public.

The Civic was designed in the mid-1950s and completed in 1966. It was Auckland’s first skyscraper and regarded as a fine example of modernist architecture. It has a Category A heritage listing.

Panuku selected Tawera Group from three shortlisted companies to restore the building and develop the surrounding land. The other shortlisted companies were Willis Bond & Co and Rebel Property Group.

Brown said the population in the central city was expected to double in the next 30 years, so accommodation options were essential.

“This scheme is a fantastic way to achieve this. It’s all about making the most of the opportunities we have in a growing city,” he said.

Tawera has refurbished several older office buildings in the area, including the Hopetoun Residences in Hopetoun St, Park Lane Apartments in Greys Ave and St James Apartments opposite the Auckland Art Gallery.

Auckland Council heritage manager Noel Reardon said it was great to see such an iconic building being restored. The council’s heritage team would work closely with the developers to ensure the heritage features were retained and restored, he said.

Love was keen to keep the former Auckland City Council coat of arms on the northern face of the Civic Building.

Building is expected to begin in the middle of next year and take three years.

Early last year, the council moved about 450 staff from the Aotea Square building to the old ASB Tower in Albert St.

NZ Herald