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The Loan and Mercantile Building in Dunedin is the most significant 19th century warehouse building remaining in the country, art and architectural historian Peter Entwisle says.
''Its future should be weighed accordingly.''
Mr Entwisle made the claim while making a submission on the building's history and heritage significance to a panel considering whether to give consent to convert to apartments the top floor of the building in Dunedin's industrial wharf area.
The former New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Ltd's grain and wool store was a complex of three buildings built between 1872 and 1929, he said.
It was a rarity as one of only two known surviving buildings to which architects Robert Lawson and William Mason both contributed.
Had that been known in 1986, the building would not be a category 2 historic place, but have a category 1 listing, he said.
A category 1 listing could be given in any review by Heritage NZ, but was unlikely to affect a project such as proposed.
Mr Entwisle was supportive of the proposal and, in terms of heritage, saw ''nothing but gain'', given the 19th century part of the building would only be restored.
He had no issues with plans to put windows in the 20th-century roof addition.