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Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
Hot Topic NBR Focus: GMO
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Auckland Club forced to sell - mulls Northern Club merger

Falling membership and finances have forced members of the 154 year-old Auckland Club to put the premises up for sale and consider a merger with Auckland's Northern Club.Club president David McEwen says it is unfortunate the club premises at 34 Shortland

NBR Staff
Wed, 27 Jan 2010

Falling membership and finances have forced members of the 154 year-old Auckland Club to put the premises up for sale and consider a merger with Auckland's Northern Club.

Club president David McEwen says it is unfortunate the club premises at 34 Shortland St have to be sold, but it is no use pretending the state of the club is not an issue. “We want to do something to sort out the future of the club before it is forced upon us.”

McEwen says the club had a number of offers to buy the building about three years ago, mainly from property developers. “At the time the club’s finances improved and the committee decided to keep trading.”

Auckland’s oldest-surviving gentleman’s club officially started in 1856 though there is a newspaper reference to an Auckland Club operating in 1853.

It once had premises in Princes St but has been based in Shortland St for more than 100 years, and since the late 1980s in a purpose-built five-level building, forming part of a multi-level tower.

In the early years the Auckland Club did not admit Jewish members but the Northern Club, based across the road from the then synagogue and in the town’s Jewish quarter, did. In 1887, Frederick Whitaker, the financially ruined speculator son of a former premier of the same name, committed suicide in the Auckland Club.

The club has struggled since the 1990s after its heyday in the 1980s when it had 1000 members and moved into five levels of modern luxury in 1989. McEwen says a combination of companies abandoning paying for club memberships, the demise of long lunches and the drink drive laws has seen membership dwindle to fewer than 300.

“The premises are now too big, although the conference rooms are used regularly for corporate events.”

He says the club is looking at alternatives for its membership, including merging with the Northern Club or moving to smaller premises. “We would essentially give the proceeds from the sale of the existing building to the Northern Club to develop better premises.

“Nobody wants the Auckland Club to disappear and members are enthusiastic about becoming part of the Northern Club, particularly if there is an opportunity for the club’s history to be recognised. McEwen says talks are under way and the club will survive this blip in its history.

CB Richard Ellis institutional investments national director Bruce Whillans and senior broker Bryan Richardson are selling the modern1877 sq m freehold strata building on a 1302 sq m site by expressions of interest closing on February 24.

NBR Staff
Wed, 27 Jan 2010
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Auckland Club forced to sell - mulls Northern Club merger
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