Asteron Centre, Wellington

Client: One Featherston Development Ltd
Timeframe: Completed 2007

Components: Wellington’s largest stand-alone office building (12 floors)

Project description:

The Asteron Centre is Wellington’s largest stand alone office building with 33,000 sq m of net lettable area. It has 12 floors of office space plus retail shops on the ground floor and two levels of car parking.

At the time this project began, the government sector was looking to consolidate existing leases and move to single tenancies, which offered a step up in technology, particularly buildings with Environmentally Sustainable Design that would reduce operating costs.

Location: 55 Featherston Street, Wellington

Client: Mark Dunajtschik (One Featherston Development Ltd)

Description: 15-storey office building

Year Completed: 2007

Lead Tenant: Inland Revenue Department

Other Information: Five Green Star Office Design Rating from the NZ Green Building Council

Completion Date: September 2010

Our Role: Project and Cost Managers

Our role

With any major commercial development the first objective is to secure a tenant. Government departments prepare their own detailed building specifications and then seek responses from property owners. Xigo personnel managed the preparation of bid documents in response to the Inland Revenue Department.

Once we began negotiations with Inland Revenue, the challenge was to find a way to meet their specific requirements while ensuring the project would still be financially viable for the developer. For example, the IRD required large areas of column-free space on each floor. This had to be achieved without compromising the structural integrity of the building.

Many options were considered during the bid and negotiation phases until both parties were satisfied with the outcome.

Finding a design team

There is a limited pool of architects, building services and structural engineers in Wellington who have the expertise to tackle such a demanding project. Our challenge was to find the best team for the job, determine their scope of service and negotiate fees on behalf of the developer. We engaged the services of Warren and Mahoney, one of New Zealand’s top architectural firms, and Aurecon, who are world class building services and structural engineers.

Gaining resource consents

The resource consent process for a large commercial development can be drawn-out and expensive if you go about it the wrong way. Our challenge was to make the resource consent process as straightforward as possible. We achieved this by bringing the Wellington City Council on board right at the start. We have longstanding relationships with the council’s urban planners, we understand the requirements of the RMA and engaged a team of consultants to help smooth the way for the project’s consent without the need for a notified resource consent.

Finalising the lease agreement

Before the development could proceed, we had to nail down details of the lease agreement with the Inland Revenue Department. This involved considerable negotiation to ensure the IRD’s requirements were met while making sure the project remained technically and financially viable.

Main challenges

This large-scale project required a builder with the right expertise, resources and management skills. We selected Fletcher Construction to manage the design process and undertake the construction, which began in 2007.

Our client’s financial backers initially wanted Fletchers to quote a fixed price up front. However, we believed this would work out more expensive in the market at that time, with a projected downturn in the building industry, which meant prices could have fallen during the three years the building was being constructed. By tendering for work only when it was needed, we saved more than 15% of the total estimated construction price. The Asteron Centre was completed on schedule in September 2010. It is now a valuable addition to Wellington’s central business district.