Industrial complex for sale in plush St Johns

5:00 AM Saturday August 15, 2015 Colin Taylor

An elevated view of the industrial complex for sale at 107-111 Felton Matthew Ave, St Johns.

An industrial warehouse, office and showroom property located in an affluent Auckland suburb is on the market for the first time in 15 years.

The freehold standalone property, on a 4092 sq m site, at 107-111 Felton Matthew Ave, St Johns, was used by Fountain Apparel for warehousing, showroom and offices and is being offered for sale with vacant possession with the business having recently been sold.

The 3052 sq m building was owner-occupied by Fountain Apparel from 2000 but was constructed for the Auckland Knitting Mills in the mid-1960s.

It is being marketed by Savills senior sales executive John Jefferson and joint managing director Doug Osborne by private treaty closing on August 27.

Jefferson says the property is ripe for conversion into retail premises as it is surrounded by a supermarket, fast food outlets and a neighbourhood convenience shopping centre. 

The site will be zoned Mixed Use under the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP), allowing town centres to expand and include commercial activities, such as retail, residential, storage, trade suppliers and drive-through facilities.

He says the property has “huge potential for adding value.”  It is bounded by Merton Reserve, has a right-of-way off Merton Rd and a 46 metre frontage along Felton Matthew Ave.

The building is configured into 55 per cent warehouse and the balance is in office and showroom space. It comprises of 1963 sq m warehouse and 1089 sq m of showroom, offices, amenities and about 25 car parks.

Jefferson says the steel portal framed property, with a super six roof, has been particularly well maintained by the owners and it is in good condition.

“Adjacent to the property is a Countdown supermarket and next door is a Carl’s Jnr fast food outlet and other shops in the convenience centre.”

Countdown opened its new supermarket two years ago, creating 82 new jobs as part of the store’s 131-strong team. The supermarket has Countdown’s latest design features and includes wider aisles, a more expansive fresh produce department and energy efficient fittings and equipment.

Jefferson says the building could be demolished, and with height rules under the PAUP intensified to 20.5 metres, a bigger development could be considered. It could be also be reconfigured into a number of uses or left as it is for a new owner-occupier’s business, but retail seems the obvious plan as the area immediately around the property is regenerating into a major residential and commercial hub.

Any new development would be “a stone’s throw” from Stonefields’ residential area in the former Winstone’s quarry at Lunns Ave and near a possible housing project on part of Auckland University’s Tamaki campus.

The St Johns area was initially boggy land that would turn into a lake in summer and was named after St Johns Theological College, established in 1844. In 1929 the area was drained, leading to initial development in the area. However, it was not until around the 1960s to 1970s that St Johns was actually settled as a residential suburb.

St Johns is home to the St Johns Park, also borders the Remuera Golf Course and will be home to a big retirement village.

Last week Summerset retirement village took a 127 year lease on a 2.5 ha site at St Johns Rd that has been a paddock for more than a century.

Known as Parsons’ Paddock, the site adjoins St John the Evangelist Theological College and a bush reserve.

Summerset chief executive Julian Cook says the site will provide much needed accommodation options for older people in the area and also free up homes for younger families and help to address the housing availability and affordability issues Auckland faces.

Jefferson says with a burgeoning residential property market, more shopping amenities are essential and retail has been the darling of property investors recently.

Latest research shows the prime suburban retail market continues to perform well and is being highly sought after by both investors and occupiers alike. Transactional activity remains strong across the suburban markets and is likely to drive compression in yields for future period.

Total returns for retail property are now consistently positive with sustained growth for the past year.

According to the Investment Property Databank (IPD) these more consistent positive returns reflect a move to a more stable market. Annual income from retail property continues to remain fairly stable as it did through the GFC due to the longer term nature of lease terms.

Strong retail sales and high consumer confidence are underpinning strong retail leasing activity. Vacancy has decreased 170 basis points over the past six months, and is now sitting at three per cent.

With incentives at less than one month in the prime markets, the market balance is shifting towards property owners and rental figures are expected to extend the positive run.