Highly experienced property developer Angus McFarlane looks set to be one of the first movers to put a stake in the ground in the Christchurch CBD.
McFarlane has unveiled plans for two new buildings on his sprawling site that spans Armagh and Gloucester Sts, known as the former Munns site. The property stretches from 144-158 Armagh St, opposite the former PricewaterhouseCoopers building, through to 137-139 Gloucester St.
McFarlane is proposing twin five level buildings on his prime 4600m2 property, which he bought in 2007 and originally had earmarked for 13 level and six level buildings respectively.
The current proposal, designed by architect Andrew Smithson of DD Architects, is for one building of 945m2 – dubbed the east building – and the west site covering 625m2.
McFarlane is set for action, having been granted resource consent by the Christchurch City Council. He has also conducted detailed land reports.
He said that he was keen to start building as soon as possible. “I have to get on with my life and planning what is going to happen. It’s the right time now to get out there and start building for the future. This was a great site before the earthquakes, and it’s still a great site now so I am sure this development will be well received.”
McFarlane believed the low-rise buildings would satisfy concerns around height for many tenants. “You will never be able to cater for every facet of human nature but I think that most people will be comfortable with this sort of height.”
Steve Hogg, a technical director at Aurecon, has used one base isolated slab over the entire site – incorporating both buildings. He said designing multiple buildings on the same base isolated platform would be a New Zealand first. The only current local building using base isolation technology here is Christchurch Women’s Hospital.
“The advantage of base isolation is that the building doesn’t feel the same earthquake force as if it were attached to the ground because it is separated from the ground by a rubber energy absorbing bearing. It’s the same as if you sat a building on ball bearings – the ground can move but the building will move with its own inertia separate from the ground.” Hogg said using one base isolated slab over the two buildings had huge commercial and time benefits for developers.” There are about six buildings in Wellington using base isolation technology, including Parliament buildings and Te Papa.
Jonathan Lyttle, General Manager at Colliers International in Christchurch, said McFarlane had been careful to take on board the sentiment of prospective tenants in post earthquake Christchurch. “Significant planning and consultation has been undertaken to ensure that the buildings provide everything that tenants have identified as being critical to their commercial needs. That incorporates obvious things such as the height and safety but also factors such as ground floor dedicated document storage to reduce weight on the upper levels.
“Another thing that tenants have been telling us is that they want good outdoor areas on their doorstep. The sheer size of this site allows the landlord to develop a campus style office environment, offering onsite parking, café and retail all located on a well landscaped site.”
McFarlane is a long time Christchurch CBD developer. He played a key role in the Farmers Car Park building, in which he still has an interest, and developed the Oxford Clinic and the ANZ building in Cathedral Sq. He still owns 5200m2 on the corner of Manchester and Worcester Sts, previously occupied by SBS, and the former Te Wai Pounamu House at 127 Armagh St.
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