Al Brown's new city business

ROB O'NEILL
Last updated 10:00 21/01/2013
al brown
MICHAEL BRADLEY / Fairfax NZ
LOCATION, LOCATION: Al Brown has been confirmed as a future tenant of the City Works Depot.

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Magazine publisher Bauer Media NZ and a new Al Brown restaurant will become  cornerstone tenants of Auckland's new creative hub City Works Depot.

Bauer's New Zealand boss Paul Dykzeul confirmed last week that the company, formerly known as ACP Media, has signed a lease to relocate to the 3ha collection of 1960s council sheds between the city and Sale St that are being renovated and attracting some high-profile tenants. They include ad agency Y&R, celebrity chef Michael Van De Elzen's Foodtruck Garage, Brothers Brewery and digital and design agencies.

Also confirmed as a future tenant is TV chef Al Brown. Online rumours indicated he may open bagel restaurant there but a spokesman refused to discuss the nature of his new venture. Ponsonby bar The Golden Dawn which may need to relocate due to development around its current premises on the corner of Richmond Rd also featured in the rumour mill.

Brown, famous for the TV series Hunger for the Wild, operates the popular Depot restaurant in Federal St, just up the hill from City Works Depot.

City Works Depot was until recently scheduled for total redevelopment into an office and apartment complex called Rhubarb Lane.

When that plan collapsed during the global financial crisis the property was finally bought by people associated with Tournament Parking which had been operating a parking business there. Those same interests are driving the current renovation, which will save the historic sheds, often used for art exhibitions and pop-up outlets.

They did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Bauer's Dykeul told Sunday Star- Times the company's lease on premises at 100 Beaumont St near Westhaven Marina expires towards the end of the year. Bauer is keen to move to seek space for expansion, he said.

Dykzeul said Bauer is a creative business and was attracted by the office space emerging as part of the redevelopment of the Auckland Council property. "Putting creative people in a creative environment is an important thing to do," he said.

"It's a terrific use of an iconic part of Auckland's architecture."

Dykzeul was not prepared to disclose the lease term, saying Bauer is a private company.

The sheds were designed by Ewen Wainscott and opened in 1968. They received awards from the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1969 and 1970.

The City Works Depot website and advertising describes the offering as a "stunning and dramatic character space" that offers spaces from 60sqm to 3000sqm for office, showroom, retail or venue use.

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The complex has more than 800 car parks nearby and also offers ease of motorway access, access to the Tank Farm, which is also being redeveloped, and also to the Viaduct area and Ponsonby.

Units in Australian developer Doug Rikard-Bell's Rhubarb Lane project had been on the market since May 2008. In March 2010, the project's financial backer, Westpac, gave the marketing extra grunt when it brought in Multiplex Living to oversee sales.

Westpac had been involved in the project since it funded the site's former owner, bankrupted developer Jamie Peters. Westpac forced a mortgagee sale of the property and then gave financial backing to Rikard-Bell.

The bank was also offering attractive terms to buyers who purchased units off the plans. These included mortgages for the commercial units on residential mortgage terms and providing a deposit bond at 2.1 per cent annual interest to buyers who did not want to put down a 10 per cent deposit.

Those incentives also failed to spark the project into life and the property is rumoured to have been sold cheaply to Tournament, crystallising Westpac's losses.

- Sunday Star Times

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