$200-300 million redevelopment of Auckland's reviled former council headquarters and Civic Square

Auckland Council’s despised former headquarters are to be transformed into apartments and food outlets.

Auckland development company Tawera Group is buying the building and surrounding area after winning the right to redevelop the category A-listed Civic Administration Building in Aotea Square, variously described as a modernist monster or an architectural treasure, with plans for apartments on the top levels and bars and cafes on the ground floor.

Tawera Group is also going to redevelop the surrounding Civic Quarter in a $200-300 million project. It will include a new apartment building and boutique hotel on Mayoral Drive and another building with a whare tapere performance area fronting Aotea Square. 

The development company, known for its boutique apartment developments, recently won a Property Council award for its Hopetoun Residences project. It has been involved with property development since 1992, focusing mainly on apartment projects.

Tawera Group’s proposal for the austere 8479sq m administrative centrepiece, which has almost a hectare of floor space over its 453sq m floorplates, was chosen by the council’s development arm, Panuku Development Auckland, after an international tender.

The 22-storey slender Civic Administration building was the city’s tallest building when it was completed in 1966 and it went on to become an icon of local government, capturing New Zealand’s modernist architecture period.  It has mainly been empty since the council moved to its $104 million headquarters in the former ASB tower on Albert St more than two years ago.

Mayor Len Brown says the redevelopment of the building next to Aotea Square will come at no cost to ratepayers.

It’s not known how many apartments will be developed but building is expected to be started next year and be finished in three years. Heritage features will be retained and restored.

Marketing documents showing the building’s potential said asbestos removal could cost up to $12 million and some seismic work was needed and the exterior curtain wall in is disrepair.

The documents went on to say the 17th floor cafeteria and rooftop deck provide interesting opportunities in the context of a residential concept and the natural light and mixed mode ventilation are consistent with modern green-star principles. The height of the building gives it expansive views of the city from the upper levels.

Development Auckland project director Clive Fuhr says it was important to provide a viable commercial opportunity that would enable the restoration of a heritage building, the provision of more housing and the revitalisation of the precinct.

Mr Fuhr says the tender attracted global interest and some impressively detailed submissions.

“The Tawera proposal was selected with guidance from a panel of urban design experts and heritage advisers. Mana whenua were also part of the selection process, ensuring Te Aranga Maori design principles were incorporated,” he says.

Mr Brown says the Civic Quarter shows what is possible if the city makes the most of its opportunities with heritage buildings.

“With the population in the central city expected to double in the next 30 years, it’s essential we develop new accommodation options. It’s about making the most of the land and opportunities we have in a growing city.”

Tawera principal John Love says the Civic Quarter is the kind of regeneration project blending an Auckland landmark building with cutting edge design ensuring Aotea Quarter becomes a must visit destination.

The development company is working through the resource and building consents, particularly in terms of the refurbishment works.

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