Prominent Whangarei development opportunity on offer

A 1.25 ha riverside property in the hub of Whangarei coming to market marks one of the most significant development opportunities in the district, brokers say.

“Zoned for intensive development, the property has 200m frontage to Hatea River and overlooks Whangarei landmark, the Town Basin, right in the heart of the city,” says Jimmy O’Brien of Colliers International who, with Peter Peeters of NAI Harcourts, is marketing the property at 44-48 Riverside Drive, Whangarei.

“This is one of the most prominent development propositions currently available in Whangarei, with a hotel chain already showing interest in the site.”

The freehold property is for sale by deadline private treaty closing March 16 at 4pm, unless sold prior, with offers to be lodged at Colliers International, Level 1, 129 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna or Harcourts Limited, 141 Bank Street, Whangarei.

Potential owners would benefit from holding income of $105,000 per year plus GST, allowing time to conceptualise and plan the future development of the site, O’Brien says.

“With its superb location, a hotel/motel or other high intensity, mixed-use development on this site would complement the nearby tourist attractions such as the Town Basin - an internationally-recognised yachting location - as well as the city’s new $32 million bridge Te Matau o Pohe nearby, the Hatea Loop walkway, Whangarei Art Museum and the Aquatic Centre.

“Also a few minutes’ drive away are the Whangarei Quarry Gardens - a community garden project with a recently-completed visitors centre and café - and the Whangarei Falls, a picturesque 26.3m waterfall.”

The property’s Town Basin zoning allows up to 300 sqm of gross retail and unlimited residential components, with a 15m height permitted under the District Plan, O’Brien says.

“This represents a rare opportunity for an investor to shape this incredible slice of Riverside. Adding to its rarity is the property’s freehold tenure, particularly when it is right on the water and in the centre of town, given much of the land in the area is leasehold.”

With a noticeable lack of hotels in the area, Whangarei is ready for a new phase of accommodation development, he says.

“The Whangarei district is just two hours’ north of Auckland, providing easy access to what is the largest domestic market in New Zealand, as well as the gateway to all international markets, particularly the Asia Pacific region.

“This would be particularly relevant to potential owners looking at developing the property into a hotel or other tourism-related site. With the Auckland hotel market often running at capacity, there is huge opportunity for the spill-over to be absorbed by satellite cities such as Whangarei.”

The property would also be an excellent candidate for development into a multi-purpose commercial and apartment building - possibly with live-work options, Peeters says.

“There is no shortage of demand for commercial properties in good locations from owner occupiers, investors, developers and tenants, and as such we expect this property to attract a lot of interest from potential buyers who can see the future potential in this property and its sought-after location.”

Peeters says Whangarei’s annual growth rate stands at 4.4% - higher than New Zealand’s overall growth rate of 3.9%.

“This is likely to be further stimulated by the increase of ships tipped to pass through Northport at Marsden Point, as well as the four-laning of State Highway One between Whangarei and Auckland, due to be completed by 2022 and expected to increase freight transport as well as bring tourists and businesss to the region.”

There are also a number of positive economic indicators for Northland as a whole, he says.

“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.”
Perhaps the most promising indicator however, Peeters says, was the recent Government commitment to the region.

“The Government this month announced a 10-year plan called the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan to attract investors and lift economic growth.

“This has included a the recent pledge of $4million towards the Hundertwasser Wairau Maori Arts Centre project, which will see the conversion of the former Northland Harbour Board building in the Town Basin into an art and cultural centre based on a design by the late Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, with the support of the Hundertwasser Foundation.

“The Hundertwasser Wairau Maori Arts Centre is yet another tourist attraction for Whangarei, along with its picturesque coastlines and numerous activities and attractions such as the Zion Wildlife Park.”

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