Heritage building swaps books for fashion and a new look

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2012

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The ornately decorated former Whitcoulls building on Lambton Quay is about to get a multimillion-dollar upgrade in preparation for a national fashion chain setting up shop.

Planning consent has been sought for extensive seismic strengthening and refurbishment of the Edwardian baroque style, category II, heritage-listed building.

It is understood the yet-to-be-announced clothing chain is planning to open a shop on the ground and first floors of the century-old building when the work is completed.

The scope of the project has been outlined in a plan submitted by Athfield Architects on behalf of building owner Easy Park. The old verandah will be removed and replaced with a modern glass and steel canopy, and heavy masonry columns on the street level frontage will be replaced by a frameless glass facade.

Structural work will include new foundations, and steel and concrete columns will replace its old cast iron and concrete interior framework.

Old wooden floors will be replaced with concrete slabs and the lifts and escalators will also be taken out. Cost estimates were not stated in the application but similar projects to upgrade other old Wellington buildings have run to more than $8 million.

Whitcoulls, which had traded from the building since 1907, vacated the store in May when it moved into the former Borders store further down Lambton Quay.

It has taken months to secure a new retail tenancy for the building. One prospective tenant was Progressive Enterprises, which considered establishing a new Countdown supermarket.

The old Whitcoulls building is on a section of Lambton Quay with the highest pedestrian counts, where annual rent can be up to $2700 per square metre for shop space.

Contact Hank Schouten
Property reporter
Email: hank.schouten@dompost.co.nz

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- The Dominion Post

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