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Hollywood-inspired ‘two-faced’ art deco property placed on the market for sale

Tags: Commercial

One of Napier’s most unusual art deco period commercial buildings – straddling two separate streets and featuring two totally different design styles – has been placed on the market for sale.

The rectangular-shaped property known as C.E.Rogers & Co – which has addresses at both 190 Emerson Street and 108 Tennyson Street – was built in stages between 1932 and 1940. The heritage-registered building sits in the heart of Napier’s art deco precinct in an area zoned inner city commercial – art deco quarter under Napier Council’s plans.

The Emerson Street portion of the 810 square metre building was erected in the Spanish Mission architectural - style with low-pitched semi-circular red clay tile roofing, arched windows, a smooth plaster finish and mock-Roman pillar ornamentation on the exterior.

While founded in Spain, the Spanish Colonial Revival style was made popular in California between 1915 and 1931. It’s influence spread globally through many of the movies produced by the Hollywood movie studios during this period. Napier during that era had one of the highest movie-watching populations in New Zealand… including the town’s architects from the firm Finch & Westerholm who were inspired by building styles they saw on the big screens.

Meanwhile, the Tennyson Street aspect of the building was constructed in a Neo Norman style dating back to the Romanesque revival period of the 1800s – showcasing solid walls topped by low-rise mock battlements and solid door structures designed to resemble castle doors. The original Norman style traces its roots back to the French region of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Now the dual-frontage premises – sitting on 505 square metres of freehold land is being marketed for sale by private treaty through Bayleys Napier, with the process closing at 4pm on June 28. Bayleys Napier salesperson Sam MacDonald the building was capable of sustaining two or three separate commercial tenancies – two of which were currently vacant.

Fashion retailer Supre occupies the ground floor of the Emmerson Street portion of the property – totaling some 300 square metres – on a current lease running through until 2020 with a further five-year right of renewal. The tenancy generates rental revenue of $90,000 per annum. Emerson Street is one of the city’s main retail boulevards.

“The C.E.Rogers & Co building is one of the most unusual in Napier – not only because it is the only premises to have dual addresses in the heart of the central business district, but also because of the two distinctly different architectural styles book-ending either side of the property,” Mr MacDonald said.

“The development potential for the greater property is huge.The upper level of the Emerson Street portion could be converted into a very cool open plan commercial office premises.

“However, with a surplus of commercial office floorplates in the city centre at present, a more likely use would be remodeling the space into residential use for what could be a very upmarket three or four bedroom 200 square metre apartment with the potential to have its own rooftop garden.

“Meanwhile, the vacant Tennyson Street portion of the building – because of its immediate proximity to the municipal theatre – is prime for the establishment of an upmarket brasserie-style bar which would piggyback of the plethora of musical, cultural, drama and dance shows being held at the venue.

“Other hospitality establishments in Napier – such as The Station Bar & Bistro and Emporium Eatery & Bar at the Art Deco Masonic Hotel – both utilise their association with the theatre to drive customer traffic. However, neither of them are right across the road such as 108 Tennyson Street is.”

Mr MacDonald described the 200 square metre unit as: “A proverbial ‘blank canvas’ site currently used for storage but with a beautiful mezzanine loft space above the ground floor.” It has been owned by the same family for more than 30 years.

Engineering reports show the Emmerson Street portion of the building has a 100 percent rating under New Building Standards (NBS), while the Tennyson Street portion has a 72 percent rating under New Building Standards. The two separate sections of the building are currently separated by a portal-framed inter-tenancy wall - covering up what was previously an open plan accessway route.

“The ‘bones of the Tennyson Street unit are sound, while the framing, beams and trusses are in a straightforward and uncomplicated configuration – making it relatively easy to create a visionary new ambience or style within the space,” Mr MacDonald said.

“Within that redesign scope could be the opening up of the current narrow staircase into a grander flight of stairs linking the two levels. Opening up the mezzanine floor would really make this a feature of the property.”

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