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Historic General Building in Auckland has sold for $42 million

Historic General Building in Auckland has sold for $42 million 1536x1040

Iconic CBD property on the corner of Shortland and O’Connell streets sells to local buyer

Auckland’s historic General Building has sold for $42 million to a local buyer who plans to bring the landmark office tower back to its former glory.

Built in 1928, this iconic CBD property on the corner of Shortland and O’Connell streets is among the best examples of Chicago-style architecture in New Zealand.

Blair Peterken of Colliers International’s Capital Markets team, who transacted the off-market sale, says there is strong investor demand for iconic heritage buildings in the central city.

The General Building was purchased by Southbourne Holdings, a privately owned property company founded in 1986 by managing director Chris Dickey.

“It is the latest multimillion dollar heritage building to be purchased by a local New Zealand entity,” Peterken says.

“There is enormous appetite for well-presented heritage buildings, particularly in top CBD locations.”

Peterken says historic commercial buildings are often seen as trophy investments, which explains their popularity among local investors.

“The problem for investors is the limited supply of such buildings – you obviously can’t build an iconic heritage building. There is strong tenant demand for well located, well presented, functional character buildings.

“Freehold heritage buildings are particularly difficult to acquire, as many of them are strata titled with multiple owners.

“Examples include the strata-titled Dilworth Building at the corner of Queen and Customs, the South British Building on Shortland Street and the St James Building opposite the Auckland Art Gallery.”

Southbourne Holdings comments: “This is a fantastic opportunity to own and work with one of Auckland’s iconic landmark properties. It has so much potential and we look forward to working with new and existing tenants during the process.”

While the building remains in good condition, it needs active management to retain and attract the best tenants.

The General Building was originally constructed for the Yorkshire Insurance Company, which requested fine and ornamental detail.

Its Chicago-style architecture, ornate lobby and exterior detailing make it arguably Auckland’s most revered heritage office building.

Chicago-style buildings are typified by their steel frame construction, large windows in a grid configuration, and limited exterior ornamentation – all of which the General Building displays.

The 10-level building is set on a 771sq m site with a gross floor area of 6,770sq m and a net lettable area of 5,486.5sq m.

With typical 578sq m floorplates, the spaces can be easily split into one to four tenancies capable of accommodating five to 60 people.

The property also boasts a good NBS rating, having undergone seismic strengthening work in recent years.

The General Building has been home to some of New Zealand’s finest lawyers, and continues to boast many leading legal practitioners among its tenancies.

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Blair Peterken

Director | Capital Markets


After more than a decade in Australia’s highly competitive commercial property sector, Blair joined Colliers International NZ as Director in the Capital Markets team in April 2017.

Specialising in the sale of larger commercial assets and mixed-use sites around New Zealand, Blair brings a high level of energy and diligence to the industry. His extensive knowledge and educational background ensures he is well-equipped in progressing and developing the Capital Markets team.


Previous Experience

From 2014 – 2017, Blair was Director and Head of JLL’s South Sydney office where under his leadership, the company  grew from third to first in the South Sydney market in both leasing and sales. In 2015 he was the company’s highest fee earner across the Australian industrial business. Blair specialised in the sale and leasing of larger industrial and commercial assets including mixed-use development sites within the South Sydney market.

Prior to this he was Head of Industrial, South Sydney at CBRE. While at CBRE, Blair won the prestigious Circle of Excellence Award twice for his performances and was highest fee writer in the South Sydney office in 2012 and 2013.

Peterken’s top transaction while in Sydney  was the 2014 sale of a 4.9ha business park in Rosebery, South Sydney to Meriton Group  for A$190,000,000

His two biggest leases were the single largest leasing transactions in South Sydney in their respective years. In 2011, he leased a Goodman-developed, 12,400sq m warehouse and office in Mascot to logistics company Toll, and last year, he leased a Meriton-owned 22,000sq m site in Pagewood to WSI Logistics.


A selection of notable sale transactions:

  • Sale of St Kentigern Girls School, Remuera - $40,000,000 +
  • The General  Buildings, 29-33 Shortland Street, Auckland - $42,000,000
  • 110 Symonds Street, Auckland - $38,500,000
  • 1-55 Rothschild Ave, Rosebery - $190,000,000
  • Central Park Business Park,  Greenlane - $209,000,000
  • Bunnings Hamilton South - $25,100,000
  • The Warehouse, Blenheim - $16,380,000
  • NZI Centre, Auckland - $63,000,000
  • Royal Heights Shopping Centre, Auckland - $17,000,000
  • 75 Karangahape Road, Auckland - $23,300,000
  • 5 Nelson Street, Auckland - $9,000,000
  • 66-80 Broadway, Newmarket - $65,000,000


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