Hastings Post Office ready to reposition
The landmark former Hastings Post Office is for sale, presenting a chance to reposition or redevelop a much-loved heritage building in the heart of the city.
Located on the busy corner of Queen and Russell Streets, the property is described by Heritage New Zealand as one the best known and most historically important buildings in Hastings.
Constructed in 1932, it is an excellent example of the Stripped Classical style that was often used for government buildings at the time.
The heritage-listed property at 101 Queen Street East comprises a 2,730sq m, two-level building on a 2,505sq m freehold site with 44 car parks.
Colliers International Broker Danny Blair, who is marketing the property for sale by negotiation, says it is currently fitted out as a medical practice.
“The property is offered for sale with vacant possession, allowing a new owner to immediately add value through repositioning or redeveloping the space.
“There is particularly good conversion potential, given the lack of residential and short-stay accommodation in central Hastings.
“Preliminary architectural plans, commissioned by the vendor, envision a 22-unit apartment conversion on the first floor.
“A new owner could develop these plans to create a boutique accommodation offering with undeniable heritage appeal.
“Alternatively, there is scope to reposition the property as a character office space in unbeatable central Hastings location.”
The property is a short distance to the town centre and only a one-minute walk to Bay Plaza, which is the largest foot court in the Hawke’s Bay.
It also provides excellent profile and superb access to all arterial routes.
Blair says the property has played a crucial role in Hastings’ municipal history.
“The first post office on the site was built in 1910, after the previous building on Station Street became too small.
“It was designed by government architect John Campbell, who included a clock tower in the Edwardian Baroque style.”
The 1914 Hawke’s Bay earthquake rattled the building so badly that the clock chimed more than 100 times, prompting fears the tower might collapse inwards in another quake.
Alterations to address public safety concerns were followed by further work in 1928 to greatly expand the building.
Tragedy struck three years later when the building was badly damaged in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.
The clock tower collapsed onto the street, as intended by the alteration work, resulting in the death of local journalist A.L. Ryan as well as injuries to many other people.
The post office was rebuilt without a clock tower in 1932. The restored clock mechanism was later installed in a new tower, built as a memorial to the quake, next to the Hastings Railway Station.
The new post office was designed by government architect J.T. Mair, who employed reinforced concrete construction and an unornamented style without detailing that could be lost in a quake.
A heritage report by Hastings District Council praised the building as a very good example of the Stripped Classical style with a “well-ordered composition of base, pilasters and parapet”.
It was operated as a post office until the late 1990s, after which it was purchased by the Wallace Development Company and extensively refurbished as a medical centre.
The alterations, designed by Chibnall Swann Team Architecture, preserved the building’s character façade and parts of the interior, with the bank vault being repurposed as an x-ray room.
The refurbishment won the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay Local Award.
Blair says the building’s use as a medical facility means its presentation is superior to many other buildings of such character.
The majority of rooms are plumbed, which would support conversion to accommodation use.
The property is registered as Category 2 by Heritage New Zealand. It is zoned Central Commercial, Central Character Precinct and Historic Areas (Queen Street and Russell Street) under the Hastings District Council’s District Plan.
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