Be the first out of the ground in Whangarei

A four-level apartment development could be an option for a large high profile site right in the heart of Whangarei’s Town Basin, which has been flagged by council as suitable for future mixed-use development.

The 5,087 sqm freehold site, spread over two titles, on the corner of Carruth and Reyburn Streets in Whangarei, is offered to the market by expressions of interest, through Colliers International and Tait Real Estate, closing 28 June 2016.

Colliers’ broker Jimmy O’Brien who, with colleague Josh Coburn and John Fairley of Tait Real Estate in Whangarei, is marketing the property says the site offers developers the chance to be “the first out of the ground”.

“This is a large freehold Business 2-zoned landholding – where leasehold land is rife – in the most vibrant part of town that would be well suited to developers, owner occupiers or land bankers; though development is undoubtedly the underlying best use of the property.

“Whangarei District Council are in full support of development in this area, and architectural plans for an apartment complex have been drawn up as a discussion document ready for the new owner or partner to take forward.

“Council’s long term strategic plan – Whangarei 20/20+ - identifies the site as suitable for future development with retail and commercial units as well as up to four-storied residential units – including potential retirement accommodation.

“So an astute investor might option to purchase the property with a view to future development, or land bank and capitalise on the site now as it is.”

Currently the rear site, with a boundary to Carruth St, houses a two-storey building with a net lettable floor area of 1595 sqm, as well as extensive on-site parking, O’Brien says.

“There has already been significant interest from potential tenants in this building, which could serve as a holding income for those wishing to develop the front site, or as a standalone investment or building for an owner-occupier such as a trade retail business or medical company, for example.

“The building was previously home to Northland Toyota and currently comprises workshop space, a parts store, offices and a showroom as well as a vehicle wash area and grooming/machine room.”

The property is north-facing and borders an area identified as the Hihiaua Precinct by council, O’Brien says.

“This precinct has been recognised by Council as suitable for inner city living and mixed use, and it has been pegged to transition into medium-to-high density mixed-use area, with a range of activities being encouraged, from residential uses, boutique retail, cafes, limited office, community services, entertainment to tourist-related activities.”

Other key benefits include significant exposure and proximity to developments such as Okara Park and the new $32 million bridge, which provides a fast route to the airport and Whangarei Heads, Fairley says.

“This site has three street frontages and is positioned on a major roundabout that experiences significant traffic flows providing excellent exposure.”
Given the proximity to Whangarei Airport and tourist destinations such as the Town Basin and Toll Stadium, new owners of the site could also look at a hotel development or retirement complex, Fairley says.

“New Zealand is in the middle of a critical accommodation shortage, with the number of tourists expected to surge from 3.3 million this year to 4.5 million by 2022.

“The five main tourist destinations - Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown - have just over 20,000 hotel rooms – but by 2025, they’ll need 9700 new rooms. Current plans show 5174 will be built - leaving a shortfall of 4500 rooms or 26 hotels – and we are likely to see more and more tourists spill over into areas such as Northland.

“Whangarei is only two hours’ north of Auckland – the largest domestic market in New Zealand, as well as the gateway to all international markets, particularly the Asia Pacific region.”

Earlier this year, the Government also made a significant commitment to the region on the tourism front, Fairley says.

“In its 10-year Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, the Government pledged $4million towards the Hundertwasser Wairau Maori Arts Centre project.

“This project will see the Town Basin’s Harbour Board building into an art and cultural centre based on a design by the late Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.”

Whangarei is also in significant growth mode – with an annual growth rate of 4.4%, higher than New Zealand’s overall growth rate of 3.9%. – sparked somewhat but Auckland’s heated housing market driving more and more people into the regions, Coburn says.

“This is only expected to continue, with more ships expected to pass through Northport at Marsden Point, as well as the highway between Whangarei and Auckland, due to be completed by 2022 and expected to increase both tourism and freight transport.”

Coburn identifies a number of positive economic indicators for Northland overall investors can take stock in.

“GDP for the region was up 3.1% in the year ending September 2015, while business confidence rose in the October quarter last year to meet the New Zealand average.

“Employment increased 2.5% over 2015 to a new record high, while the average rent in Whangarei rose by $15 per week in November last year.”

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