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The finish line is in sight for a Dunedin couple whose roof-top apartment near Queens Gardens has been more than five years in the making.
Jewellers Ted and Ita Daniels plan to be living at the top of the historic Stanton Building by Christmas.
The Stanton was one of three properties near the Exchange that the couple bought with Wayne Marsh in 2009. The Standard Insurance Building and the former Bank of New Zealand Building are both on Princes St, while the Stanton is in behind, facing Queen’s Gardens.
In the 10 years the property had been empty, pigeons had moved in and water had pooled inside, Mr Daniels says.
"We probably just got it in time before it was ready for demolition."
Six years ago, while linking the Standard and Stanton Buildings with a new atrium and lift, Mr Daniels began thinking about adding a third-storey apartment to the latter premises.
"I thought it would be pretty cool that and maybe I could persuade my wife ...
"She wasn’t that keen at first because we have a home with a lovely garden in the bush. But she didn’t take much persuading at all once she saw the plan."
Architectural draughtsman Geoff Terpstra prepared the plans for council consent and the interior of the apartment was designed by Nina Daniels as part of her final year studying interior architecture at Otago Polytechnic.
Entry is via a rooftop garden and the front door is set into a wall of old bricks, which the building’s original sloping roof rested on.
Both the open-plan living area and the main bedroom open on to a small balcony and have floor-to-ceiling glass, with expansive views across Queens Gardens and the warehouse precinct to the harbour and peninsula beyond.
Given the building’s shape, none of the rooms are square, but the Daniels think this only makes it more interesting.
Still to be completed, the 4.5m-high ceiling follows the complex angles of the roof and will be lined with Siberian larch. A friend took on the mammoth job of painting the 4000m of timber.
A concealed, centre-pivot door leads to the two bedrooms, bathroom and toilet. There is also a small second kitchen with access to the outdoor area, a play area for the grandchildren, and a mezzanine where Mrs Daniels — a keen photographer — will do editing.
Below the apartment, their electrician discovered a "basement under the basement". Once full of bottles and rubble, it is being used for storage but likely to become a "man cave" in the future.
The couple emigrated to Dunedin from Holland in 1980. Mr Daniels says they planned to stay a year or two but the city grew on them. They loved the scenery and the Victorian and Edwardian architecture, but locals were in "demolition mode". Many buildings were pulled down because they were considered earthquake risks or because they were empty and car parks were seen as better investments.
"I totally disagreed with it, but the council let it happen."
Bracken Court was refurbished for $3million after fire swept through the Moray Pl building while they were overseas. And after selling the former BNZ Building, they spent eight years and $2million returning the Standard Building to its former glory. At the time, it had rotten floors, an orange facade and was missing all of its original decorative mouldings.
A friend hearing about the Bracken Court blaze, Covid-related delays and water going through their Leith Valley home, delaying its sale, joked they had survived "a fire, a flood and a plague of biblical proportions", Mrs Daniels says.
Renovating the Stanton’s lower floors for offices, their jewellery workshop and another apartment is expected to take another two years. In the roof-top apartment, the ceilings, glass balustrade and roof top garden are still to be completed.
But the couple are already staying there a few days a week and hope to be there permanently next month.
"If we could, we’d move in tomorrow because we really love it here," Mr Daniels says. "It’s such a nice space to be in."
THE STANTON BUILDING
The first building on this central Dunedin site is believed to have served as the Hallenstein’s Clothing Factory and then an auction rooms before being demolished. Completed in 1907 for a tailor, the existing property is of brick and concrete construction, with precast concrete floor panels and reinforced concrete ring beams on each floor holding the building together. Two more storeys were planned but never built.