Auckland landmark synagogue for sale

March 13, 2018 by Keren Cook
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An Auckland CBD landmark historic building dating from 1885 which played a focus in early Jewish life for almost a century, is now up for sale.

The building, which seated a congregation of 375, was Auckland’s main synagogue and meeting centre for the city’s Jewish community.

The Heritage listed building is located on Princes Street on the corner with Bowen Avenue and served the Auckland Jewish community for 84 years until it was deconsecrated in 1969.

The building is currently known as University House, the building is home to the University of Auckland’s Alumni Relations and Development office.

Bayleys Commercial Sales Agent Cameron Melhuish says: “This sale presents prospective buyers with the chance to add an important part of Auckland’s cultural history to their portfolios.”

The adjoining building built in 1986 is also included in the sale, and is a well known contemporary art Gallery, – called the Trish Clark Gallery, and is one of Auckland’s leading art spaces.

Together, both buildings generate an annual net rent of $262,351 plus GST.

“University House sits at the entrance to Auckland University campus and visitors cannot help but be impressed by its architecture,” Melhuish says.

The interior of the former synagogue was meticulously restored in the late 1980s and is a blend of Arabic and Classical styles featuring: ornate stained-glass windows and stained-glass dome; an elliptical staircase; a decorated barrel-vaulted, wood-paneled ceiling supported by graceful Arabic arches and columns; and ornate plaster work.

The building is one of only two 19th Century synagogues still standing in New Zealand and was designed by noted Auckland architect Edward Bartley.

In 1967, due to significant growth in the Jewish Community, the congregation moved to a larger, newly built synagogue on Greys Avenue, overlooking Myers Park and ownership reverted to Auckland City Council following the building’s deconsecration.

Left vacant, the building slowly deteriorated over the next two decades, until it was given a new lease of life as a branch of the National Bank in 1989 when Salmond Architects was charged with undertaking a restoration.

Melhuish says the project involved extensive structural and strengthening work and sought to redevelop the interior spaces for office use.

The conservation project won Salmond Architects the inaugural Auckland City Heritage Award and a New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award citation in 1990 for successfully reconciling the tenant’s commercial requirements with the need to conserve one of Auckland’s significant landmark buildings.

Melhuish, with colleagues Mike Houlker and Sunil Bhana, is marketing the property on Auckland Council leasehold land for sale by tender, closing at 4pm on Thursday, April 12, unless it sells prior to that date.

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