What’s being described as a concrete wasteland in the heart of Auckland is about to be transformed – should a deal go through.
Private developer the Tawera Group has won a tender to restore the rate payer-owned Civic Administration building in Aotea Square.
Just how much the company’s buying the public asset for is unknown as the deal has not yet been completed.
Tawera Group CFO John Love said its proposal for the ‘Civic Quarter’, features residential apartments, food and beverage facilities, a hotel and a Whare Tapere performance space.
He said the project is transformational – it’s blends a mix of cultural, commercial, retail and residential – something they’ve never attempted before.
“At the moment the south-eastern end of the square is poorest. It’s a concrete and tarmac wasteland. We are going to absolutely revitalise the space, creating a depth of community, reactivating it and just adding top to the fabric of the city.”
The city’s urban development agency, Panuku Development – says selling to a developer is a win-win – as it will come at no cost to rate payers.
But Auckland Mayor Len Brown said what it sells for to Tawera Group might not ever be made public.
“We will announce as much as we can and whether that includes the sale price is a matter for Panuku to give us advice on.”
Mr Love said the work would cost $200 million to $300m, but it was his preference for the sale price to be kept confidential.
Tawera and the council’s development arm, Panuku Development Auckland, are still completing the sale negotiations.
Mr Brown said the debate about the future of the 18-storey Civic Building had been in the public eye. He wanted to maintain transparency around the sale but said the land was being sold privately and it was not just ratepayers’ concerns that were an issue.
The $27.2 million sale of another civic space – Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties for a commercial development – was made public.
Mr Love announced that the ground and mezzanine floors of the Civic Building would be used for bars, cafes and restaurants and the rest of the building converted into apartments.
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.
As the Herald reported yesterday, 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.
Said Mr Love of the ‘Civic Quarter’ project: “It will blend an iconic Auckland landmark with cutting-edge design ensuring that the Aotea Quarter becomes a must-visit destination.”
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 will work closely with the developers to ensure the heritage features are retained and restored, he said.
Mr 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.