The historic home of the New Zealand Herald for more than 150 years has sold for $31 million and will be turned into a wellness hotel.
The sale of the Auckland site on the corner of Albert and Wyndham Streets to Australian company Pro-Invest Developments settled last week, with plans announced for a 490-room dual hotel development of around 37 storeys.
There will be 290 Holiday Inn Express rooms on the lower levels and 200 EVEN hotel rooms on the upper levels, which Pro-Invest will develop and manage under a franchise agreement with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).
The EVEN brand has been developed around modern travellers’ demands for holistic spaces and features state-of-the art fitness facilities, in-room gyms and nutritional menus providing fresh and organic ethically-sourced foods.
The New Zealand Herald, the country’s dominant quality newspaper, moved off the site in 2015 when parent company NZME relocated all of its Auckland media operations into a new CBD office complex.
The Herald’s occupancy of the site dates back to when the newspaper was founded in 1853. For 120 years the paper was written, compiled and printed there; the editorial, advertising and administrative departments remaining on the premises when its printing was relocated in the 1980s.
All of the former 15,000 sqm of Herald buildings on the site have now been demolished, making way for the 22,500 sqm high-rise hotel to be developed on the Wydnham and Albert St corner portion.
EVEN Hotel Auckland will be the first outside of North America, with Pro-Invest planning to develop a portfolio of 10-15 EVEN hotels throughout Australasia in partnership with IHG.
Jan Smits, IHG’s chief executive officer for Asia Middle East and Africa, said: “With EVEN Hotels, we have a created a brand that will deliver a local wellness experience to travellers for whom health and wellbeing is so important.
“I firmly believe that the EVEN Hotels brand will be a key driver in market share growth in New Zealand and Australia.”
Nick Thompson of Bayleys Realty Group says the land is the latest in a series of Auckland CBD sites the company’s hotel division has sold or put under contract in recent weeks, at a total transaction value of more than $100 million.
“We are receiving continuing enquiry from off shore investors for quality hotel development sites in Auckland in particular with interest heightened by major forthcoming events such as the America’s Cup and APEC Leaders’ Summit,” he said.
A low-rise CBD office building of 25,000-30,000 sqm will occupy the remaining 3,158 sqm of historic site, which also has frontage onto Mills Lane.