Big Whangarei site is down by the riverside

5:00 AM Saturday February 20, 2016 Colin Taylor

An aerial view of the big commercial site for sale fronting the Hatea River at 44-48 Riverside Drive, Whangarei.

The sale of a big freehold riverside property zoned for intensive development in the centre of Whangarei is being marketed as representing one of Northland’s biggest development opportunities.

“The property has a 200 metre frontage to the Hatea River and overlooks the Whangarei 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 44-48 Riverside Drive, Whangarei, for sale by deadline private treaty closing at 4 pm on Wednesday March 16 unless it sells earlier by negotiation. Offers can be sent to Colliers International, Level 1, 129 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna or to Harcourts Ltd, 141 Bank Street, Whangarei.

“We already have a hotel chain already showing interest in the site and, with a noticeable lack of hotels in the area, Whangarei is ready for a new phase of accommodation development,” O’Brien says.

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

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

O’Brien says the property is currently occupied by various large industrial buildings on monthly leases to 11 marine and auto industrial tenants.

“A new owner would benefit from receiving holding income of $105,000 per year plus GST while taking time to conceptualise and plan the future development of the site,” he says.

“The property’s Town Basin zoning allows a mix of retail development and unlimited residential construction with a 15 metre height permitted under the district plan.

“This sale represents a rare opportunity for an investor to shape an 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 that much of the land in the area is leasehold.”

Peeters says the Whangarei district is now just two hours’ drive north of Auckland giving the Northland region easy access to New Zealand’s largest domestic market and to international markets via Auckland’s port and airport.

“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 like 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. As such we expect this property to attract a lot of interest from prospective buyers who can see the future potential in this property and its strategic location.”

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

“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-lane widening of State Highway One between Whangarei and Auckland. This is due to be completed by 2022 and is expected to bring more tourists to the region as well as increasing freight transport and business.”

Peeters there are also a number of positive economic indicators for Northland as a whole.

“Gross domestic product for the region was up 3.1 per cent 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 per cent over 2015 to a new record high, while the average rent in Whangarei rose by $15 per week in November last year.”

He says perhaps the most promising indicator is a recent Government commitment to the region.

“This month the Government 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 $4 million 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 another significant tourist attraction for Whangarei, along with the region’s picturesque coastlines, numerous outdoor activities and attractions like the Zion Wildlife Park.”

Jimmy, Peter.jpg

Jimmy O’Brien (left) and Peter Peeters (right), of Colliers International.