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Consented development site with former post office premises for sale gets the stamp of approval

The land and building housing what was the Epsom post office at 311 Manukau Road in Auckland is a two-storey 455 square metre building located on a high profile 789 square metre corner site.

The building’s distinctive appearance - displayed by the Marseilles tiled pitched roof, rough-cast cement plaster finish, wrap-around flat lower roof, and symmetrical exterior - has remained largely unchanged for more than a century.

The New Zealand Government bought the Manukau Road site in 1907 to service anticipated Auckland suburban development in the Epsom and One Tree Hill locations. The Epsom Post Office was built as part of the first Liberal Government’s 15-year post office construction boom that commenced around 1900.

Constructed in 1909, the Epsom Post Office was designed in a Baroque revival style under the supervision of John Campbell, the Government architect of the time. The building mirrors most significant Government buildings erected throughout New Zealand around the turn of the 20th century.

Initially, the building accommodated a public vestibule with posting boxes, a private box lobby accessed via a separate front entrance, a public office and mail room, telephone room and a small strong room. Reflecting customary nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial design, a two-bedroom postmistress’ residence was provided upstairs.

In 1937, alterations to the Epsom Post Office included the enlargement of the mail room and a flat-roofed, office addition. Its chimneys were removed in the 1980s, and over the ensuing decades its interior has been renovated, refurbished and remodelled into professional office suites – including conversion of what was the postmistress’s apartment into workspace.

The downsizing and deregulation of the public sector by the Labour Government in the late 1980s - including splitting the Post Office into three separate entities - resulted in the Manukau Road property being sold into private ownership in 1990.

Now the former Epsom post office property is being marketed for sale at auction on September 18 by Bayleys Auckland. Salespeople Quinn Ngo, Matt Lee and James Chan said that with a business mixed use zoning under the Auckland Council Plan, the freehold property has been granted consent to sustain an additional five-storey residential development on the current land.

“The flexible business mixed use zoning allows for an array of future use possibilities - including the headline potential for constructing an additional separate commercial and/or residential building on the under-utilised land at the rear of the site. Water and sewage services have already been laid to a central location in the car park in anticipation of further development of the property along these lines,” Mr Chan said.

“The address at 311 Manukau Road on the corner with Kimberley Road has residential appeal because of its north-facing aspect receiving ‘all day sun’ and because it’s located within the popular double grammar zone for boys attending Auckland Boys Grammar, and girls studying at Epsom Girls Grammar.

“Additionally for social amenities, the major retail hub of Newmarket is a mere 15-minute walk away – or a few stops on what is a major bus route - while the vast open green park spaces of Cornwall Park are a similar distance in the opposite direction.”

The Manukau Road building for sale has an Historic Places Category 2 classification which requires that its front façade remains intact as the foundation of any multi-storey redevelopment.

Heritage New Zealand says the classification recognises the property’s “aesthetic value as a building of striking visual appearance and its historical architecture value demonstrates the importance and evolution of the postal services and their role in New Zealand society.”

“Resources consent has already been granted to undertake a substantial redevelopment at the rear of the existing structure. These plans fully comply with Heritage New Zealand‘s requirements for wholly preserving the post office’s street facade and frontal portion in their current state,” Mr Chan said.

“The architecturally-designed plans are for a ground level retail/residential use with four levels of apartments or accommodation above – for an estimated gross floor plan of 2,304 square metres. These consented plans are included in the property sale.”

The Manukau Road property has a 100 per cent of new building standard (NBS) rating. The ground floor level of the property comprises 365 square metres, while the first floor has 90 square metres of space. A flat area at the rear of the building currently offers parking space for 10 vehicles.

Mr Lee said the building was being sold ‘as vacant’ – with only one tenant on a rolling monthly lease paying the equivalent of $14,920 plus GST per annum.

“This arrangement also opens up the potential for the site to be purchased by an owner-occupier looking to relocate into a high-profile city-fringe commercial premises. The building’s interior received a major refurbishment some eight years ago which encompassed a complete upgrading of the telecommunications and data cabling, the installation of double-glazed windows, and the connection of 12 heat pumps,” Mr Lee said.

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