Bustling market to bring Shed 35 alive

NEW DIRECTION: Nick Wareham is seeking resource consent to convert Shed 35 into a seven-day food market.
NEW DIRECTION: Nick Wareham is seeking resource consent to convert Shed 35 into a seven-day food market.

A derelict cargo shed at CentrePort could soon become home to a permanent market similar to Melbourne's bustling Victoria Market.

The concept is part of a CentrePort plan to breath life into its Harbour Quays area in Waterloo Quay, which is dominated by three big new office blocks.

The multimillion-dollar plan also involves converting an old brick Wellington Harbour Board office building into a "gastro-pub".

The office building and Shed 35 on Kings Wharf are heritage-listed earthquake-prone buildings behind the new BNZ, Customs and Statistics Department office blocks.

The plan is to strengthen the 2000-square-metre Shed 35 and turn it into something like the Victoria Market in Melbourne, CentrePort property manager Nick Wareham said.

It would attract people to Harbour Quays as well as serving the 3000-to-4000 office and port staff who work in the area.

"This is a gap in the Wellington market we want to service," he said.

"This will be a seven-day specialty food offering, with different tastes and smells that will really work for Wellington."

CentrePort architects had consulted Wellington City Council planners, and resource consent was now being sought.

Subject to approval, CentrePort would look to sign up tenants and take about a year to do the construction.

Chief executive Blair O'Keeffe said it was the sort of mixed-use development that would "breathe new life into vacant historic buildings, adding safety, vibrancy and pedestrian access to more waterfront space".

Property Council president Ian Cassels, who has been a strong critic of CentrePort office block developments in the area, welcomed the new plan: "I'm very heartened by it. Hopefully it will make the waterfront much more human. It's a pretty desolate place at the moment.

"It will give that part of town more substance and interest. I feel sorry for those people who now work down there."

Architectural conservator Ian Bowman said Shed 35, built in 1915, was one of the few remaining of the brick cargo sheds that used to be dotted along the waterfront.

It was a rare intact example of an early 20th-century waterfront building. Features included its high windows and travelling cranes.

The Kings Wharf offices were built in 1928 to be a wharf ambulance station.

"It's very important to keep these buildings because they're associated with Wellington's harbour and business development," he said.

"There aren't that many old harbour buildings left in the country."

Putting them to public use could do a lot to activate the port area.

"If it's anything like the Victoria Market, it will be a wonderful place to go."

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said: "This is an expression of confidence in the vitality of Wellington's economy during difficult times. It's a great example of heritage buildings being strengthened for sustainable and attractive economic use."

Martin Bosley, who runs the Sunday market in Chaffers Dock apartments, welcomed the Centreport plan.

He said markets were great for meeting people and producers and getting people to try new foods.

"I think it's fantastic; I might give them a call myself." But he wondered whether it could draw enough people to run seven days a week.

The Dominion Post