New shops planned for Lambton Quay

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 16:51 09/11/2012

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A new group of fashion shops is set to be developed in a prime section of Lambton Quay.

Willis Bond has unveiled plans for a major revamp of the ground floor of the mirror-glassed ANZ building on the junction of Lambton Quay and Featherston St.

The tile-fronted public toilets on one of the prime corner Quay locations will be moved to the Grey St side of the building to make way for shops.

The ANZ banking  chamber will also be moved to the Grey St-Lambton Quay corner where the Esprit fashion store now stands and the whole building is being renamed Grant Thornton House after the accountancy firm dhacquired the naming rights.

The revamp have been announced by Willis Bond managing director Mark  McGuinness who bought the 15-storey block from  AXA last year for  $25.1 million.

Since then, another $15m has been committed to doing up and refitting the 28-year-old building to attract new  tenants.

McGuinness said he had been eyeing the potential of the block for some time.

‘‘We followed its evolving ownership with great interest and we were delighted when eventually we were able  be able to buy it.

‘‘It’s quite unique in the middle of Wellington, having that island site bounded by Lambton Quay, Featherston and Grey streets.’’

The aim was to make better use of the location – opening up the ground floor, with shop windows taking the place of tiled facades and ornamental gardens around much of the building.

‘‘We’ve approached it very seriously. It’s really important to the CBD that it’s treated well.

‘‘It’s always been a missed opportunity in terms of its execution.

‘‘A banking chamber is a great thing. It  provides  a lot of utility, but it doesn’t present to the street and doesn’t have an active edge. It is very leaden from an urban perspective, so what we’ve tried to do is bring some life and activity into the area.’’

 Athfield Architects  was  commissioned to do the design. 

Project director Roger Twose, a former captain of the Wellington Cricket team and accomplished Black Caps batsman, said  the  ANZ revamp had two parts.

On the ground floor they were taking the opportunity to turn two tenancies into   about 10 outlets spread around all three frontages. 

The old  ANZ banking chamber was dark and, in his view, not well connected to the street. 

The bank would be moving to the corner now occupied by Esprit, where  it  had signed up a new 12-year lease.

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Other retail tenants have not yet been named.

‘‘We’re currently talking to them and there’s strong market interest from fashion operators down Lambton Quay,’’ said Twose.

They were also looking to bring food retailers into shops on the Featherston and Grey St   sides of the building.

The ground floor foyer for office tenants would  be opened up with another entrance into the lobby off Featherston St. This would allow people to come in from both sides of the building.

With council agreement, new public toilets would be built in Grey St, allowing the  bullnose corner to be redeveloped to create a new identity for the block.

The tower has also been getting a lot of attention since ANZ began relinquishing the office floors.

The air-conditioning system had been refitted and new lifts, ceilings and carpets had been put in to improve the accommodation and attract new tenants.

 Grant Thornton  has  leased the top two floors and bought the naming rights, the Environmental Protection Authority  has  taken five floors, information technology company Optimation e has taken two floors and the Institute of Economic Research  is  leasing   one floor.

ANZ  is  still leasing levels 1-5 but, when  it  moves out early next year, these floors  will  be refurbished for new tenants.

Engineering consultants had assessed the building as exceeding the e new building standard, said McGuinness.

This made it attractive for dhoffice tenants and  McGuinness said the first and second floors had features that could appeal. 

The first floor, which was part of the podium,  had about 1200 square metres of office space and the second floor had about 480sqm of office space plus a  large deck on the podium roof.  

- The Dominion Post

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