The Revamped & Repurposed Former Gin Factory Turns One!
Father and son duo Kerry and Elliot Knight from developer Equinox Group are a pair of professional transformers. Together they’ve successfully breathed life into a former industrial site overlooking Auckland Harbour that was originally back in the 1960s the Gordon’s London Dry Gin Distillery. “We used to live around the corner and I used to kayak and water-ski in Hobson Bay. Back then it was off limits—no one could go to it because it was an alcohol factory,” says Kerry. At the time, the son of the factory manager attended Saint Kentigern School with him.
Fast forward 50 years and thanks to the hardworking efforts of him and his son Elliot, a seasoned refit expert, the repurposed industrial building morphed 12 months ago into the upmarket hub of Orakei Bay Village Remuera—complete with 250 car parks on-site, 10 eateries, five retail stores, seven health and lifestyle services and the artHAUS art gallery with studios for resident artists. Think Auckland’s own mini version of the Meatpacking District where warehouses on the waterfront get refitted, reused and revamped. “It’s Ponsonby Central with more things to buy and do in the Eastern suburbs” Kerry says. “Now, after being open a year, we have gathered our thoughts and refined things a bit more.”
Now stage two of the bustling boutique marketplace adjacent to the Orakei train station is well underway. Car parking is offered free for two hours. A lift has been installed to conveniently connect shoppers from upstairs down to the lower ground level carpark outside anchor tenant, Kings Plant Barn. Six brand new leaseholders are about to open. Kerry confirms that the latest signing includes cult fitness studio F45 famous for dramatic body transformations achieved on eight-week challenges.
Perched high above Hobson Bay overlooking Auckland City in the centre of Orakei, Mission Bay, Meadowbank, St Johns and Remuera, Orakei Bay Village Remuera is home to Farro which is exactly where the owners wanted to be for their first store when they launched back in 2005. “It’s in a fabulous catchment area for us, located in a prime spot on a number of access routes. We love the old warehouse feel,” says Janene Draper, Farro co-founder. While known as a one stop shop for artisan specialty groceries and ingredients, the store also has a commercial kitchen providing ready-to-go meals for customers.
Directly opposite is the Urban Herbalist owned by a pharmacist with a passion for integrative medicine stocking natural skin care brands, practitioner strength supplements, offering advice and health plans. Nearby is the Barrel Room, a branch of Brothers Beer offering locally made craft beers, 18 tap beers and guest brews surrounded by a striking décor of stainless steel, oak, concrete and the grand opulence of a huge hanging crystal chandelier. Next door is Orakei Bay Bistro complete with Nantucket-style booths and cosy lighting that’s open from brunch to dinner serving up typical rustic faire like Bluff oysters, pot roasted clams, lamb chops, beer battered fish to decadent triple-cooked duck fat potatoes. In the heart of the building is Ampersand Eatery. Metro placed the “industrial all-dayer” on its Top 50 Best Cafés list for 2018 saying “good for—Eastside people-watching with water views” given the picturesque vantage point overlooking Ōrākei Basin. Partnered in the same space is award-winning Espresso Workshop with its roaster and workshop pumping out piping hot cups of Joe.
Walk beyond to The Botanist where your eyes feast on an exquisite array of blooms from elegant orchids to fragrant white stock. This is the place to order pretty posies or lavish bouquets. Gym junkies are in luck given the glam active wear stocked by People Like Us, curators of fashion forward ‘athleisure wear’ not previously available in New Zealand. Directly opposite is Mobile Muster, a one-stop smartphone and tablet tech repair outlet that also delivers door-to-door. Its neighbour is fine wine store, Great Little Vineyards with an outstanding wine portfolio if exceptional artisan wine endorsed by one of the country’s famous chefs, Peter Gordon. “If there’s one wine shop that sells the best of New Zealand (and the world) this is it.” he says.
More retail stores are clustered adjacent including So Beau Baby stocking stylish designer threads for children up to size 8. The Father Rabbit flagship boutique showcases home niceties, tiny clothes for littlies, and an array of items that you ‘need’ that are lovingly wrapped. Chic homeware store Alex & Corban operated by the winners of The Block NZ 2014 is the destination for decorating inspiration, room reveals and beautifully designed products from all over the globe. For healthy guilt free clean eats you cannot go past Bowl and Arrow in the heart of the hub serving up the smoothie bowls some say are the best in Auckland with no nasties like sugar and dairy. If the ingredients don’t turn your head, the menu names might like “Soul Mate, Six Pack and Sweetie Pie”!
Tucked around the corner is a little ‘beauty strip’ with Thairpy hairdressing salon, specialists in bridal and ball hair beside Coco Nails Salon for that manicured polish. Outside New Zealand’s largest 100% hand wash car wash, Espresso Carwash immaculately grooms cars with all hands to the pump carefully cut and polishing while owners run errands. Directly opposite the train station is Dazzling Paws the hangout of precious pampered pooches. Located on the lower carpark Bird on a Wire offers a succulent selection of free range rotisserie chicken and salads with delivery within a 3km radius of the store.
Metres away is Viva Pilates the first studio in New Zealand to feature world class BASI System apparatus for maximum results in a short amount of time ranging from Reformers to Wunda Chairs and Spine Correctors. For fans of traditional and authentic Japanese cuisine, both set-menu and a la carte, Saku Saku is your local. Next door Luxe Body offers an expansive menu of appearance and aesthetic treatments from anti-wrinkle injections to lash extensions and tanning.
By July, the stage two new lessees will expand Orakei Bay Village Remuera even more confirming that it really is ‘the must-do’ destination to “eat, drink and buy beautiful stuff” in the Eastern suburbs!
Words: Sarah Sparks