Commercial expansion for Onehunga

5:00 AM Wednesday May 10, 2017 True Commercial

Auckland Council’s Planning Committee approved Onehunga’s redevelopment, including the wharf regeneration. Photo / Supplied

Onehunga’s growth is transforming the local commercial property market as land uses change and new challenges arise, says a local business leader.

The comments come after Auckland Council’s Planning Committee last month approved a master plan for the suburb’s regeneration, similar in scale to the ongoing transformation of Wynyard Quarter.

The plan envisions Onehunga as a flourishing suburb connected to its heritage, communities and the environment, including the Manukau Harbour.

Onehunga Business Association President Peter Gibson says the predominantly industrial suburb is already in the midst of a significant transformation.

“Onehunga is being reshaped by intensification under the Unitary Plan, which encourages mixed use and high density residential developments,” he says.

“An estimated 9000 extra people are expected to live in the area, which will create new business opportunities and provide a ready workforce for established industries.”

Gibson says it is important for that change to occur appropriately.

“One potential issue is ‘reverse sensitivity’, which occurs when industry is forced out due to complaints from residential occupants,” he says.

“Higher density residential development needs to be separated from the heavy industrial zoned land by lighter industrial uses as a buffer zone.

“Industry remains vital to Onehunga’s future, and the main street will continue to rely on servicing the surrounding industrial area.”

Gibson says Onehunga stands to benefit from the East West Link, a planned four-lane road between SH20 in Onehunga and SH1 in Mt Wellington that will improve transport around Auckland’s southeastern industrial heart and remove traffic from local roads.

Gibson says the project needs to be designed well to ensure valuable industrial land is not lost forever to roads in a scheme which is less efficient over the long term.

“Onehunga must remain connected to the harbour,” he says.

“Onehunga Port is the only infrastructure providing direct access to the Manukau Harbour, and with Panuku Development Auckland’s proposed revitalisation will provide opportunities for expanded fishing operations, ferry transportation, tourism and hospitality.”

Gibson says Onehunga is the only unloading point for commercial fishing operations between North Cape and New Plymouth.

Colliers International Investment Sales Broker Gawan Bakshi, who specialises in the Onehunga area for the Investment Sales team, says the suburb’s transformation could prove a boon to the area’s property market.

“We’re already starting to see the benefits of gentrification and residential development, with new businesses setting up shop around Onehunga Mall,” he says.

Bakshi says successful new hospitality ventures have been established including the Onehunga Cafe, the Liky Liky Gelato shop, and the newly opened Good Home pub. There are also rumours a well-known, established hospitality business is looking for premises in Onehunga.

Retailers are starting to make the move beyond Dress Smart to the main retail strip, including Cotton On, Seed and NZ Sale.

“There’s clearly a growing recognition that Onehunga is a great place to live and do business,” Bakshi says.

Bakshi says Onehunga offers a great range of commercial properties to invest in, from smaller shops through to large industrial holdings.

“There are signs the housing market has been cooling, but commercial property remains strong, with record low industrial vacancy rates in Auckland,” he says.

“As a result, we’re seeing more mum-and-dad investors looking to buy commercial properties as an alternative to traditional residential investment.”

Bakshi says first-time commercial property investors may be surprised at how affordable properties remain in Onehunga, despite the suburb’s growth.

“True to its working class roots, Onehunga is still within reach for savvy investors,” he says.