Bruce McLaren's garage set for a grand makeover
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The Remuera building in which international motorsport legend Bruce McLaren forged his long-lasting legacy is set for a comprehensive transformation.
McLaren's Remuera Rd garage, where he grew up and then later honed his skills as an engineer and team leader, will soon be home to six apartments as well as a ground-level space developers and marketers hope will pique interest as a potential home for a cafe or restaurant. Construction is expected to take nine months, once approved.
Despite McLaren's passing in 1970, the building has remained a pilgrimage for motorsport icons -- many of whom left their mark on the building by signing "the driver's wall" within McLaren's apartment.
Jack Brabham, Chris Amon, and Dan Gurney are among the signatures on the wall, which has helped ensure that it, along with the exterior, will be preserved during the changes.
"It's like how people make the pilgrimage to where John Lennon was born -- this is where Bruce grew up. The more time I've spent researching it, the more fascinated I've been by the whole story," said Mike Pero Real Estate Remuera Director Graeme Moore, husband to the property's Licensed Salesperson and Territory Owner Karen Moore.
"The building has been preserved in a way that, hopefully with the retail and the living, will help it become more accessible than it is now. The most passionate feedback hasn't been from motorsport people, but from locals. They want to make sure that the environment in that area is preserved."
The building had been occupied by Upland Motors and the McLaren Trust. But, with the latter having been unable to purchase it outright, they will shift to a base next to Hampton Downs Motorsport Park where a museum will be set up.
Most of the changes (mainly the addition of a floor and upgraded earthquake proofing) are concealed at the back of the building -- thanks to the work of developer Charles Richards.
"Conservation and preservation is not about doing nothing. That's stagnation and that's how buildings fall into disrepair," Richards said. "The word they use for it is adaptive re-use; you have to create value to restore a building to its former self.
"I'll be spending three quarters of a million dollars to bring it up to 100 per cent of national building standards. To fund that, you have to be creative, which is why we're putting the additional floor on.
"From the streetscape, you can't see the second floor. It's only when you go around the back of the building that you realise that there's another floor on there. It's very clever architecture."
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