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Offshore investor snaps up heritage jewel in Christchurch – Box 112 widens focus


Successful property investor Box 112, responsible for restoring several heritage buildings in Christchurch, is widening its focus into the private equity sector.

It recently received a major boost to its coffers with the sale of the distinctive former Midlands Club building at 176 Oxford Tce. Mark Macauley, general manager of Colliers in Christchurch, negotiated the $6.9 million sale to an offshore investor who bought the building sight unseen.

“We had a lot of interest in this property. It’s spectacular – not just in terms of the meticulous restoration work – but its river outlook location and position next to Te Pae, the new Convention Centre.

“Auckland investors, syndicates and overseas investors are all continuing to eye properties in Canterbury across the spectrum, from commercial through to industrial. It remains a very buoyant market with a huge amount of unsatisfied demand.”

Macauley says that although reluctant sellers, the divestment of 176 Oxford Tce has allowed Box 112 to diversify into a broader investment space.

In 2019, original founders Rob Farrell and Sam Rofe expanded the partnership with James Stringer and Tom Elworthy joining to form a new private equity company, The South Island Office.

Their first major investment was developing the former temporary library site on Peterborough and Colombo Streets into a 4000sqm office now occupied by NZMA on a long term lease, alongside Dalmans, Accent Lighting and NZ School of Tourism. That was followed last year by purchasing the food manufacturing company, Original Foods, for $30 million.

“We have continued in this space and are now looking at an additional investment into the food sector,” Farrell says.

“We are also investigating land use change opportunities within the Canterbury Plains and, of course, still like the commercial property sector. These are all areas which we enjoy and have particular skill sets in.”

“We like to be well diversified and are always looking for good businesses with good people, and the sector, whilst important, comes after these two primary criterium are met when looking to invest. As Warren Buffett said, ‘buy great businesses for a fair price, not a fair business for a great price.’ "Box 112 is currently carrying out the restoration work on the old Municipal Chambers on the corner of Worcester Boulevard and Oxford Terrace, under the direction of the City of Christchurch Trust.

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Mark Macauley

General Manager

Christchurch (Agency)

Mark is a high achieving investment broker specialising in investment sales and has negotiated in excess of $1.3 billion of sales both in Canterbury and throughout New Zealand. He has been instrumental in some of the biggest commercial property transactions in the South Island. 

Mark’s extensive national network of institutional clients, family trusts and high net worth individuals are always seeking opportunities in the commercial property market. He is a partner and general manager of Colliers International in Christchurch and was previously managing director of CBRE locally for 12 years.

Recent major transactions include: the former Police Station at 68 St Asaph Street ($24.7m); Opus House, 12 Moorhouse Ave ($37.5m); Westpac, 7 Show Place ($14.5m); 282 Durham St (confidential); and 124-140 Kilmore Street ($25.2m). 

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