Developer Cook Strait Properties is starting work on the demolition of the building to make way for a two-level building – with mainly retail space on the ground floor and office space above.
At the same time, the City Council is about to tender for $1.5 million of work to upgrade Lombard Lane, Denton Park and Bond Street east, which surround the building.
Cr Foster says the two projects will jointly bring more life to this important part of the city that helps connect the Golden Mile with Civic Square. “This is a public-private partnership in the best sense – it’ll bring this part of the city alive. Wellington has unquestionably the best central city in the country. That is strategically critical, and this project will be another big step in making our Central City an even better place to live, work and play in.”
Cr Foster says Cook Strait Properties director Luigi Muollo and Council planners have been steadily working on the upgrade since Mr Muollo brought the proposal to the Council in 2013.
Apart from design work, the Council has been involved in a lengthy ‘road stopping’ process to facilitate a small land swap to allow the expansion of Denton Park at the Bond Street end of the block.
Mr Muollo says he intends to construct a 1500-square-metre new building with boutique fashion retailers and a high quality café opening onto a revamped Denton Park. “We’re intending to have retail space on to Victoria Street open by Christmas, with the whole development complete by May next year with other shops opening onto Lombard Lane.
“This is an excellent, high-profile site that’s been under-utilised for many years. We’re going to turn it into a desirable destination,” says Mr Muollo.
Cr Foster says the Lombard initiative is a key part of the Council’s programme of laneway developments. “This will make it a place to go and enjoy being in rather than to cut through quickly. Lombard Lane will be largely pedestrianised and have shops opening onto it, while Denton Park will become a larger sunny space which will have planting, shelter and a high quality café.”
Bond Street will be turned into more of a shared space linking with the West Plaza Hotel and the footway to lower Cuba Street.
Tenders for the Council-funded work will open this month. Work on the public spaces will be co-ordinated with the building’s construction.