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Teamwork transformed a derelict rugby league ground into a vibrant part of Auckland City, with a business precinct, retail shops and a serviced hotel

Game On

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Redefining a piece of a city's heritage can be a daunting task, as any site with a long history evokes strong feelings. When McDougall Reidy & Co set out to turn Carlaw Park – a derelict rugby league ground – into a vibrant part of the city, the developer gathered a team to help plan the transformation.

Before becoming a sports field, the land had been home to a flour mill, tannery and Chinese market. Today it has evolved into a mixed-use development with offices, a serviced hotel, retail space, a daycare centre, carparking and public open space. The commercial building holds a 4-Star Green Star rating.

Now the sole link to the land's sporting heritage is the name – and deciding to keep the name was easy, says Greg Reidy, director of McDougall Reidy & Co.

"It was already a landmark," he says. "Most Aucklanders know where Carlaw Park is. There was a lot of heritage and emotion in the site."

The precinct needed to fit with the council's existing master plan, so the developer's proposal blends the development with existing buildings, linking sightlines to the surrounding area, which includes Parnell Rise and the Auckland Domain.

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Although the site is commercial, the area has a campus-like feel, with large open spaces and plantings softening its appearance, says Reidy. Stone, timber and glass were chosen as construction materials to create a feeling of permanence.

"The absolute essential for us was solid-looking buildings. We wanted to avoid anything that looked lightweight or speculative," Reidy says.

Intended as a destination site, a high number of public car parks were required because on-street parking is severely limited in the area. The carpark also provides another source of income for Carlaw Park, which is owned by Direct Property Fund. The fund has a close association with McDougall Reidy.

For further details, contact McDougall Reidy & Co, Shed 24, Princes Wharf, 147 Quay Street, Auckland 1140, phone (09) 303 9655, fax (09) 303 9657. Website:www.mcdougallreidy.co.nz

First published date: 08 July 2009

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