Portfolio key to trotting club future

5:00 AM Saturday June 10, 2017 Paul Charman

An artist’s impression of the FreshChoice supermarket planned for Alexandra Park. Photo / Supplied

The Auckland Trotting Club is reviewing and resetting overall business strategy, determined to deliver a sustainable future for harness racing.

Delivering ongoing growth in the club’s property portfolio is key to that, says Alexandra Park chief executive, Dominique Dowding.

The club did a major organisational overhaul a few years ago and she says much has been achieved since then.

High on the list was selling nearly $300m of apartments as part of its significant urban village development now under construction on Green Lane West. The development’s ground-floor commercial leases are also progressing well.

“Steady as she goes is just not an option so the board and management’s renewed focus is to take the organisation to the next level, to ready the club commercially for the next decade,” says Dowding.

“The Blues rugby franchise taking a long-term lease and constructing a new training centre at the property in 2015 has been a great move. The club now needs to not only attract further compatible tenants but increase the overall value of its leases. I want us to move from an annual total turnover of $22m to $30m, and be sitting on $500m worth of assets in the coming decade. That’s where I believe we need to be.”

She says the club’s large Epsom site continues to climb in value, thanks partly to the re-zoning of its former carpark for the development.

More recently Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan zoned much of the club’s Green Lane West frontage as Mixed-Use, allowing for any future development the club may want to pursue.

New tenants and leases have brought increasing commercial complexity across the club’s property portfolio, giving the sporting-based club much greater business breadth and depth. Its amalgamation with the Franklin Trotting Club has also delivered the industry an affordable training centre.

“Our members know that if we are to remain racing in the 21st Century in Australasia’s fastest growing city, we need to fully transition into a commercial entity and this is exactly what this latest strategic reset is all about.

In 2015 and 2016 the club sold all of its 246 freehold apartments, with Colliers International statistics confirming the development commanded some of the best prices in Auckland and was among the fastest selling. It will include some leading hospitality and retailers, with a FreshChoice supermarket already leased.

The club is investigating a further stage, with registrations of interest, via the development’s website to purchase additional apartments, proving to be strong.