As Auckland City corporates move on up to flash new glass high-rise towers nearer the waterfront, their dated, cast-off offices are being gratefully snapped up by people wanting to make them their homes.
A growing number of city-fringe office blocks are being converted for new lives as luxury apartments.
The conversions include the former Baycorp headquarters in Hopetoun St – a late 1970s building – converted into 91 apartments, and the former Telecom House nearby, which has been increased from 15 to 18 storeys and has a penthouse which sold for nearly $6 million.
Improving values for city apartments since 2011 were giving developers confidence to take on new large-scale products – both new builds and conversions, said Bayleys research manager Ian Little.
More than 2500 new apartments would be coming on to the metropolitan market in the next two years in a dozen projects.
However, projects could not come on stream soon enough to meet the growing demand for inner-city living, with some not likely to be ready until 2017.
The trend to turn inner-city B and C Grade office blocks into freehold apartments was led by Tawera Group’s David Mahoney in 2012.
In the former Becca Carter office at 132 Vincent St, the company created 62 apartments over six levels and their quick sellout inspired the move to convert bigger buildings to the successful Hopetoun and Hereford Residences.
“The advantage of conversions is being able to take potential buyers to the exact spot to show them what their views will be like,” said Mr Mahoney. “From a construction point of view, a conversion is faster. To rebuild the Telecom building (now named the Hereford Residences) it would take three years and we did the conversion in half the time.
“I feel apartments are still undervalued compared with housing, so there is good growth in the apartment market.
“We are selling the lifestyle – being handy to Ponsonby and being able to lock up and leave but the benefit of a bigger-size apartment than some around.”