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Reed Publishing operated from the building between 1925 and 1940. The building had fallen into a poor state of repair by the time Mr Forbes reluctantly bought it last year. Despite feeling daunted by the prospect, he bought it to save it from demolition.
Before leading the group of more than 100 people to Reed's Building, on the corner of Jetty and Crawford Sts, Mr Forbes took them along Vogel St, showing them the exteriors of the Rogan McIndoe Print buildings he owns.
After buying them about four years ago, he ''ran into a bit of a wall'' trying to gain consent to multi-tenant the buildings, because of the district plan and the ''strange'' attitude of the Dunedin City Council. The council had since effected a ''phenomenal'' turnaround and was now working with developers to talk up the precinct's potential.
Council heritage planner Dr Glen Hazelton told the group the area's architecture had stood out for him when he arrived as a student at the University of Otago from Auckland more than a decade ago. It was once home to some of New Zealand's most important companies, he said.
The council's rejuvenation project was designed to support and encourage the developers who were bringing the warehouse area back to life, he said.
The tour was part of the Dunedin Heritage Festival, which started yesterday and runs until Sunday.