Auckland’s 1800s heritage secured
Image of proposed Wong Doo development
4 September 2013
Auckland’s 1800s heritage secured
The historic Wong Doo Building (1884 – 1885) on Hobson Street and Airedale Cottages (1856) on Airedale Street are to be refurbished and given a new lease of life through the first use of Auckland Council’s Built Heritage Acquisition Fund.
The council established the fund in 2011 to acquire at-risk heritage buildings with the intention of restoring and then on-selling them. The Wong Doo building will return to its dual retail and residential roots, at the foot of a new apartment building that will transform this area of Hobson Street.
“This is an excellent outcome for the first use of the fund,” says Mayor Len Brown. “We are saving a piece of Auckland history as part of a project which will inject new investment, retail and residential use into an area which needs revitalisation.”
Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum chair Councillor Sandra Coney says the restored Wong Doo Building and Airedale Cottages will contribute great character to their neighbourhoods. ‘They are good demonstrations of the role that restored heritage buildings have to play in providing a rich urban landscape and adding to our quality of life.”
“This is one tool the council has to address Auckland’s all too common problem of heritage demolition by neglect, when owners don’t have the inclination – or far more commonly, the funds – to restore buildings which are important parts of Auckland’s history.”
Mr. Ben Lee, CEO of KNC Construction Ltd says the Wong Doo Building will add unique character and value to his company’s planned shopping and residential complex “Hobson Fiore II” on Hobson Street.
“We did buy the building initially with the intention of pulling it down and starting from scratch, but we are very happy with this joint venture with Auckland Council and what we will be able to offer both residential and retail tenants.”
The Wong Doo building previously held a textile and fireworks business run by key Auckland Chinese community figure Thomas Wong Doo and was a hub for the local Chinese community in the mid-20th century.
Both the Wong Doo building and the Airedale cottages are an important part of the heritage landscape of Auckland’s city centre according to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust’s General Manager Northern, Sherry Reynolds.
“The Wong Doo building dates back to the 1880s, and has particular significance for its strong connections with the Chinese community over the past century through the Wong Doo family.
“The Airedale cottages are also important as rare examples of mid-19th century workers’ housing in central Auckland dating back to the first 20 years of the city’s foundation – which makes them particularly special.
“The NZ Historic Places Trust is pleased that a very positive heritage outcome has been achieved for these two heritage buildings, and congratulates the council for its strong leadership both in developing the Built Heritage Acquisition Fund and making the decision to invest funds into these two very significant buildings.”
Auckland Council established the Built Heritage Acquisition Fund to save at-risk buildings and other built features that may suffer from destruction by neglect. Under the fund, the council can acquire at-risk buildings, restores them or ensure that they are restored, then on-sells them with legal protection in place after a short-term hold.
Various buildings in inner city, suburban and maritime settings are under active consideration for this fund, which was started with $10million in 2011 and accumulates a further $2.9 million each year.