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Investors prepare to go to town as high-profile Queen Street retail units go up for sale

Two high-profile retail properties in a century-old character building in Queen Street’s luxury shopping precinct have been placed on the market for sale.

The two ground-floor units in the Guardian Trust Building, at 107 and 107A Queen Street, offer prominent street frontage to Auckland’s most famous shopping strip. One is a well-established tenanted investment and the other is being offered for sale with vacant possession.

Originally constructed for the New Zealand Insurance Company during World War I, the distinctively-styled Guardian Trust Building was one of the country’s first high-rise towers. It offers an impressive façade to one of the central city’s busiest intersections.

The unit at 107 Queen Street is fully leased to high-end New Zealand knitwear retailer Finestnz Limited, trading as Great Kiwi Yarns, which has been located in the building for over 30 years. The up-market retailer produces designer clothing for local and international customers in natural yarns including possum-merino, merino, alpaca and cashmere.

Its Queen Street outlet was originally opened in the early 1990s by award-winning New Zealand fashion designer Trish Gregory, who retains an involvement through the store’s sale of knitwear under the Trish Gregory label.

Finestnz Limited leases 52 square metres of retail space, generating net annual rental income of $155,279 plus GST per annum. Its current six-year lease runs through to 2024, and incorporates two-yearly CPI rental increases.

The property at 107A Queen Street, a unit of 96 square metres, has recently become vacant. It was previously returning rental income of $173,682 plus GST per annum.

The two Queen Street units are now being marketed for sale individually or together by tender closing on 8 October (unless sold prior) through Bayleys Auckland Central.

Salespeople Alan Haydock, Damien Bullick and Ken Hu said the stratum in freehold-titled properties offered an opportunity to gain a stake in a prestigious mixed-use building in a prime CBD location.

Mr Haydock said the Guardian Trust Building was built between 1914 and 1918 from Kairuru marble and carried an air of prestige as an early example of Chicago-styled stripped classical architecture.

“This building marks an important transition between Victorian commercial structures and modern office buildings. Designed by William Gummer, it was modeled on turn-of-the-century commercial buildings in the United States with a simplified classical style stripped of most ornamentation,” Mr Haydock said.

“The property was refurbished in the early 1960s, and again in the early 1990s, and it now offers a combination of retail units with apartments on higher levels.”

Mr Haydock said 107 Queen Street consisted of high-quality, boutique retail space with a highly-visible frontage and a well-established quality tenant.

The unit for sale with vacant possession at 107A Queen Street would appeal to a range of tenants or owner-occupiers due to its high-stud, open-plan retail area and modern fit-out. “At the rear of this tenancy is a café-style kitchen and counter, with additional storage and an office area,” he said.

The two Queen Street properties are zoned Business – City Centre under Auckland Council’s unitary plan. This zoning seeks to maximise vibrancy and to ensure the city’s central business district is “an international centre for business and learning, innovation, entertainment, culture and urban living”. It allows for a wide range of permitted activities including office, retail, conference and entertainment facilities and residential accommodation.

Mr Bullick said the two properties’ street-front location, opposite the intersection of Queen and Shortland streets, afforded retail tenants the benefits of maximum visibility from both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

“The surrounding area along lower Queen Street is arguably New Zealand’s leading luxury retail hub, with high-end international outlets including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada as well as a number of popular local retail brands,” Mr Bullick said.

The properties for sale also rub shoulders with numerous prime office buildings, international-brand hotels and a growing concentration of large apartment towers, helping to sustain a high level of foot traffic day and night throughout the year, he said.

“This is the beating heart of a commercial hub which services the wider Auckland region, and it is readily accessible to a large customer base right across Australasia’s fastest-growing city,” said Mr Bullick.

“The two properties for sale are less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Britomart Transport Centre. This saw some five million boardings by passengers last year, with a further big increase in rail passengers expected when the new City Rail Link opens in 2024. The Downtown Ferry Terminal and international cruise ship berths are also within a few hundred metres, making this a leading national transport hub,” Mr Bullick said.

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