Iconic rocket lifts on the block

An eight-level piece of iconic Auckland real estate with more than 15,000m2 of lettable space is for sale – and the lifts are pretty spacey too.

An eight-level piece of iconic Auckland real estate with more than 15,000m2 of lettable space is for sale – and the lifts are pretty spacey too.

Auckland’s Metro Centre on Queen St is being marketed by Jones Lang LaSalle and Colliers International for Orchard NZ Trustees. The property occupies 3486m2 of prime Auckland land next to Aotea Square.

The building was designed by Walker Architects and picked up numerous gongs for the firm after opening including: the IES Lighting Premier Design Award; the NZIA Resene Colour Award for Architecture and the Boma Award for Supreme Excellence.

Walker describes the building in the following terms: “Towering concrete buttress stretching from the subterranean up to the floating timber roof are hollow, a facade, reminiscent of a stage set.”

Travel information service Fordor’s described the centre as having “design concepts that could be from a science fiction movie. It is worth a look even if you don’t intent to partake in its entertainment. Spiral staircases, bridges designed to look like film, and elevators in the shape of rockets regularly attract design and architecture students.”

The recent $80 million council-funded renovation of adjoining Aotea Square can’t help but improve foot traffic through the landmark building and the property has a July 2008 rateable value of $60 million, with the land alone valued $25 million.

Jones Lang LaSalle director of investment sales Nick Hargreaves said the building – built in 1999 – was a “unique blend of historic and modern architecture. It is easy to see why it bills itself as ‘the ultimate shopping and entertainment centre in the heart of Auckland City.’”

Despite the troubled financial status of one of its largest tenants – Borders’ parent REDgroup entered administration last week – Mr Hargreaves was upbeat about rental potential.

He put the possible combined annual rental from the building at $4.057 million, including returns from peppercorn lease from 13 ground floor shops alongside the Civic Theatre. “The tenancies provide a varied lease expiry, giving the new owner an outstanding opportunity to actively market the current vacant space within the building.”

Event Cinemas recently bought the cinema chain, which operates from the property, from Sky City and Mr Hargreaves said there was secure cashflow with the cornerstone lease of the new owners for 7080m2 expiring in 2029.

Peter Herdson, director of investment sales at Colliers International said the proximity of the building to the Auckland’s office-working population was a boon. “The complex is visited daily by large numbers of CBD office employees, as well as thousands of students throughout the day. Into the evening, it becomes a major destination for cinema goers. All of this contributes to an annual traffic count estimated at six million.”

Mr Hargreaves said the sale represented a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure landmark retail space in Queen St.”