Arthouse Architects satisfies their designs on Christchurch inner city

Sale of superbly restored Edwardian building

The superb restoration of an Edwardian building in the Christchurch CBD proved the lure Arthouse Architects needed after 18 months searching for space back in the central city.

Director Jorgen Andersen says they were looking for space with a point of difference when they heard that the ground floor of the P Duncan building in burgeoning St Asaph St was for sale.

Rather than leasing, Andersen and his fellow directors decided to traverse the owner occupier market, recently buying the character building for $2.010 million.

Built in 1903-04 for P & D Duncan Ltd, it was home to one of New Zealand’s leading early foundries and engineering firms. It has been held by the same family, who extensively upgraded the building and strengthened it to 70 per cent of NBS.

Courtney Doig of Colliers International, who marketed the building with Nick Doig, says there is considerable interest in the market from owner occupiers.

“With the continued favourable lending environment for owner occupiers, partially or completely unoccupied buildings are still yielding good enquiry. It’s encouraging to see Arthouse commit and make their move to the CBD in such a lively part of town.

“In our experience, there are a growing number of smaller firms like Arthouse Architects looking to move back into the central city and they particularly enjoy the buzz around this area of town. The development of Welles St and the new Welder development are adding to the already creative atmosphere,’ Doig says.

Vendor Paddy Cotter has owned the property since the 1980s and looked at a variety of options after the earthquakes.

“I’m really pleased with how it’s looking now but I’ve run out of steam and it was time to sell. I think people often don’t realise how much time, effort and energy go into doing up these heritage buildings. The budget started at $1.5 million but ended up at $2.8 million. We owned it for a long time – it’s time for someone else to enjoy it.

Located at 7/204 St Asaph St, the space is in the heart of what is now known as the Salt District – the area bordered by St Asaph, Lichfield and Tuam Streets.

Arthouse Architects has been in business for 20 years, now having five staff in Christchurch and 15 in its Nelson office.

“We’d been looking for office space in the central city pre earthquake as we were working remotely from the Nelson office and I was working from home when in Christchurch. At the moment we’re based in Addington, in a shared studio space building, originally developed as part of the QB Studios portfolio of buildings,” Andersen says.

The firm currently occupies 75sq m but will take 230sq m in St Asaph St, and will be leasing out the remaining 230sq m.

“The history of the building appealed to us because character buildings are now reasonably unique in central Christchurch. The fact that it’s already been repaired and upgraded means we can move in and keep working.

“We like the area; there are three other architects in that strip of St Asaph St and an interior/lighting designer. The 12 on site carparks were also an important part of the decision, making it easy for clients and colleagues to get to us. We like the feel of the SALT district – it’s good fit for us,” Andersen says.

“We want to be part of the regeneration of the city and supporting that by bringing business into the area is a great way to demonstrate our positivity about how the central city is developing. We want to be around other like-minded professionals and creatives, so this location suits us perfectly.”

Andersen says the firm is working on fit out plans now and hopes to shift next March.

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