Now eclipsed by the nearby Sky Tower and numerous high-rise offices, Auckland’s first skyscraper building is for sale, providing opportunity for add-value investors or owner-occupiers to capitalise on the enduring demand for character office space.
Dating back to the early-1900s, and originally constructed as an eight-storey warehouse and factory for wholesale manufacturing stationers Collins Bros, and Co., the north-facing building was for some time, Auckland’s tallest.
Known now as Cathedral House and positioned on a 563sqm Business-City Centre zoned site, 48-52 Wyndham Street stands at the corner of Wyndham and Federal Streets, opposite the Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph.
It is close to the Sky City precinct, Commercial Bay, Queen Street, Britomart and the emerging Te Waihorotiu train station which will have entrances on Victoria Street and Wellesley Street once the city rail link project is completed.
Today Cathedral House is home to a number of small to medium-sized businesses including a café, lawyers, consultants, and professional advisors, occupying largely individual serviced offices with shared amenities.
The building is 70 percent occupied, with vacant office space of varying sizes on levels 2, 5, 6 and 7, and there are eight lined tandem car park bays accessed from Federal Street where the property adjoins the rear of Auckland District Court.
The neoclassical façade retains the original architectural features like pilasters and entablature – columns and mouldings – and the triangular pediment gable topping.
Inside, some refurbishment has been carried out to offer typical floor plates of around 450sqm, with many floors partitioned into individual serviced office studios, shared meeting rooms, and common areas for staff kitchenette facilities.
The vacant top level has duplex ceilings, ornate arch window timber joinery, exposed gable roofline, plus an outdoor deck area offering harbour and city views.
Main access to the commercial levels is via a tidily-presented setback foyer which showcases the building’s history and provenance, with multiple stairwells and two sets of modern passenger lifts servicing the office levels which each have their own arrival lobby.
On the north-eastern elevation, the popular Caffe Greco occupies a split-level hospitality tenancy with direct and separate access from Wyndham Street.
David Bayley and Cameron Melhuish of Bayleys Auckland Central have been appointed to sell the freehold property, with tenders closing 4pm Thursday 22nd June.
A trust associated with successful Auckland apparel and souvenir business The Derek Corporation, which operated a showroom, offices, warehouse and factory from the property for around 40 years, before relocating its extensive operations to Avondale, has determined it is time to leave sentiment aside after a long association with the site and to find a new owner.
Melhuish said occupier demand for unique character office space which offers a tangible point of difference in the market remains high in the Auckland CBD, and he’s expecting strong demand from investors and owner-occupiers looking to secure a viable office building with personality and a compelling back story.
“Those with a penchant for character will immediately recognise the charm this property offers and its potential to be further enhanced inside to create office space that’s just a bit different and draws on the building’s past narrative,” he said.
“With well-apportioned floor plates across the whole building, the upper levels are superb examples of loft-style industrial character zones – with the sort of features that add-value investors try to emulate today when they are retrofitting existing buildings.
“Exposed brick and steel work, original Australian jarrah hardwood floors, the arched windows, tons of natural light and expansive harbour views are all underscored by the innate legacy this special building has as an important example of the city’s early trading history.”
The property currently has a net passing income of $652,140 plus GST and OPEX, and it is thought that after refurbishment and at full occupancy, income could potentially be in excess of $1million plus GST and OPEX.
“The relatively short lease profile provides significant market reversionary opportunities to realign income to market levels after refurbishment,” said Melhuish.
“In its current guise, the building operates as a predominantly serviced office suite model, offering affordable and convenient space for smaller occupiers.
“A new owner may well opt for a different format but regardless, demand for character office space that is strategically located to leverage as the city expands and regenerates is still robust so, as an asset with around 2796sqm lettable area, it has a good future.”
There is significant development happening in the immediate vicinity, with Mansons TCLM Limited’s Fifty Albert project between Albert St, Wyndham St, Mills Lane and Swanson Street under construction, with Spark to establish its new national headquarters there.
Also in Albert Street, the former Stamford Plaza hotel will be converted into a JW Marriott hotel facility, becoming part of the largest hotel chain in the world.