Arcade faces uncertain future
There have been mixed reactions to news that one of Auckland’s favourite creative haunts, St Kevin’s Arcade, is up for sale.
Built in 1924, the arcade on Karangahape or ‘‘K-Rd’’ has long been a hangout for musicians and quirky retailers.
It has a category B heritage classification but its marketing campaign notes it is zoned under the unitary plan for intensification, with a height limit of 35 metres.
Auckland Council’s heritage manager Noel Reardon said the zoning was appropriate given that it was both a heritage building and in a heritage area, and any changes needed council consent.
But some shop owners were nervous that the arcade could be potentially be developed into a bigger building, leaving just the facade.
St Kevin’s owner is The Icon Group run by Paul Reid. He bought the arcade in 2015 and plunged nearly $3 million into a sympathetic renovation.
Reid said the arcade was in a prime location but also hoped it would not change too greatly.
‘‘The long-term future capital gain will be substantial for the next owner but unfortunately it’s not our business model to retain things.
‘‘As landlords we just enhance them and de-risk them and move on.’’
He had tried to secure the arcade’s character by putting about a third of the tenants on long 10-year leases.
St Kevin’s has a rich history dating back to the Nathan family, who donated the land to serve as a key walking link between K- Rd and Myers Park.
During its heydays in the 1920s to 1940s, the arcade was part of a thriving retail scene, and more recently, it has been a magnet for artists, music venues and bookstores.
Michelle Menzies, who runs a shoe shop in the arcade, said she was supportive of Reid’s improvements and sorry to see him go.
‘‘It’s a community like no other up there, it’s a very unique place to eat and shop, and the retailers are just keeping building on that.’’
But Max Woolridge, who is moving out of St Kevin’s, thought the arcade’s vibe had changed.
‘‘It used to be about creative people and independent businesses...the whole vibe is clinical now.’’
Tenders close on June 14.
Some shop owners are nervous the arcade will be further developed, leaving just the facade.