Much admired Morrisons building at 13-15 Garrett Street in Te Aro Wellington for sale

Former printing house offers character in popular Te Aro

Originally built in 1937 to house a printing business, the Morrisons building in Wellington’s Te Aro is tipped to attract keen interest from owner occupiers, residential converters, and add-value investors.

The yellow-stickered building is for sale by tender, closing November 19. It is owned by the Riddiford family and last changed hands in 1983.

Overlooking Glover Park at 13-15 Garrett Street, the two-level building is safe to occupy but needs to be repaired by 2027 in line with earthquake regulations.

The Fabric Store currently occupies the ground floor retail space with a separate coffee bar in the dock way. The two upper floors are leased on residential tenancies and there is a flat, sunny roof terrace. The 807sq m building sits on 291sq m of land.

Marketing agent Sam McIlroy of Colliers International says the current net income is circa $162,000 annually but with strengthening and refurbishment there is significant upside.

In particular, rent on the ground floor could treble to match other ground floor rents in the vicinity.

“It’s a fantastic character building and is really a blank canvas for an investor.

"The flexibility of the current leases will provide a good holding income while future development potential is explored.

“Its position opposite Glover Park means future light and outlook are protected. There is scope to use the 27m height limit and build additional floors on top as part of the future repositioning.”

Yellow stickers used to be issued for earthquake prone buildings by the Wellington City Council under the previous earthquake-prone building system. This changed mid-2017, though, when the new Earthquake-prone Building Amendment Act came into force.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Emplyment, all old Earthquake Prone Building notices have been carried forward, so if a building had a yellow sticker under the old system, it will be reissued with a new notice in accordance with the new system.

The earthquake-prone building register indicates there are 735 earthquake prone buildings in Wellington. 

McIlroy says strengthened and refurbished buildings are popular with tenants looking for character space.

Another such building at 60 Cuba Street, Te Aro, sold in 2016, was strengthened and refurbished and is now tenanted by Highwater eatery on the ground floor with the character office space on the upper level also fully leased.

In 2015 the building that houses Floriditas and Best Ugly Bagels, at 161 Cuba St, was bought by an investor who has also undertaken the same process.

“Demand for strengthened character space is always strong in Wellington. Tenants like being involved with the whole transformation of the building and their fit out can be done in conjunction with the strengthening.”

He says Te Aro is a rapidly changing area, close to Victoria University’s School of Architecture and Design, numerous apartment buildings and retail stores, whilst also being a stone’s throw from the best restaurants, cafes and bars in Wellington, including Havana, Logan Brown, Prefab, Cafe L’Affare, Ombra, Floriditas and Light House Cinema.

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