Iconic police station transformed into unique boutique firm space

Wellington’s iconic central police station has just had a $3 million fit out: The owners want to continue the history of law and order and say the new space is ideal for boutique law firms

A unique office-space with a history rich in law and order has become available at a time when law firms nationwide are increasingly seeking out premises that support new ways of working.

Wellington’s historic central police station, which sits between Johnston Street and Waring Taylor Street and overlooks Midland Park, has just undergone a $3 million fit out and is open for business.

In conjunction with architects Warren & Mahoney, owners Precinct Properties New Zealand Ltd have transformed the building into a sweeping open-planned office space spread across four levels, and with an A Grade 80% New Building Standard rating.

The significant refurbishments of the nearly 2,000m2 of space include the repositioning of new entry lobbies, balconies and new Tasmanian oak tongue and groove floors, as well as restored staircases and the installation of lights and radiators.

The historic Doric columns that represent law and order at the front of the building have been retained.

Precinct’s Wellington asset manager Ryan Carter told NZ Lawyer that the building, renamed “Central on Midland Park”, makes an ideal offering for any boutique law firm looking for change.

“[It suits] Boutique firms or one of these smaller companies that have the opportunity to grow and are looking for an environment right now that’s conducive to creativity,” he says. “Legal firms are using office space increasingly efficiently. We have seen many law firms move or renovate offices to take up sometimes less space, but always in better quality premises.”

And as more firms implement modern working practices like hot desking, open plan offices and job sharing, Carter says the days of the secluded corner office may be reaching an end.

Instead, professional services firms increasingly want their office to encourage collaboration and a more collegial atmosphere.

“I think we’re certainly seeing a lot of change around the way people work within their space. That’s all around getting the costs down, but also having the ability to have flexibility within the space,” he says.

The entire building could potentially be leased by a single professional services firm, but the design also allows for segregation into at least four different individual offices.

The offering is open to anyone, but Carter says that both because of the layout and the building’s history with law and order, it would be particularly appropriate for a law firm.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in the CBD,” he says.

And given that recent research by real estate service provider CBRE shows that in Q2 2014 Wellington’s office market has a scarcity of available prime stock and well-located investment opportunities, the timing of the refurbishment of Central on Midland Park is particularly significant.

Building history    
Mid 1880s A kainga (pa) was established by Ngati Mutunga at the mouth of the Kumutoto Stream - now the intersection of Woodward Street & Lambton Quay.
The Theatre Royal and the adjacent Theatre Royal Hotel were demolished for the Midland Hotel and police buildings. The building was designed by John Campbell, Government Architect.
1915 The 600-seat Theatre Royal occupied the site.
1918 On 19 April at 12.45am the first police patrol was dispatched from Waring Taylor Street.
1950s Wellington Central City Police Station, known as the ‘lock up’, was a central fixture on the Wellington landscape.
1980 Police National Headquarters (Johnston Street side) relocated to Molesworth Street.
1984 NZ Historic Places Trust Board classified the building ‘C’ under the Historic Places Act. ‘C’-classified buildings merit preservation because of their historical significance and architectural quality.
1989 Wellington Central City Police relocate from the Waring Taylor Street premises to the new central police station and district headquarters in Victoria Street.
1990-1993 Construction commences for the two-stage Mobil on the Park development, this included the partial demolition of the Former Central Police Station.
2004 Precinct Properties purchases Vodafone on the Quay (which has since been renamed) and the Former Central Police Station Buildings
2013 Precinct undertakes seismic upgrade.
2014 The refurbishment of the former Central Police Station is completed


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