Last man standing counts costs

By Anne Gibson

The Shoe Sheriff on Newmarket's Broadway stands alone in the midst of a glitzy multimillion-dollar redevelopment of the shopping strip.

Four years ago the cobbler's shop - owned by Peter Croad - won a courtroom battle to stay on the premier retail drag opposite Westfield's 277 shopping mall, facing down a rich land owner who wanted him out.

The shop has held its ground as all the neighbouring buildings have vanished, including the Patel family's dairy, a toy store and a bookshop.

Those shops were pulled down to make way for Broadway Junction, a project on the leasehold land by award-winning developers Newcrest Group.

New shops have now been built on both sides of the distinctive rust-coloured shoe repair shop, thought to date from the 1930s.

"I'll be in a bank sandwich," Croad said, noting when ASB moves in his shop will be between that and the BNZ.

But the battle to save the shop from the redevelopment going on around it has cost the business dearly, estimated at $200,000.

The land the shop stands on is owned by Tram Lease, which owns large sections in the neighbourhood, but in 2003 the Court of Appeal ruled the firm could not demolish the wall separating the shop from a neighbouring KFC. The demolition would have damaged the shoe shop's roof and structure, the court said.

Peter Snelling of Tram Lease called the shoe shop a "blot on the Broadway landscape", but the court ruled in favour of the shop and its owner.

Croad complained that he had lost trade when neighbouring land became building sites and said he was looking forward to all the new tenants moving in around him so order would be restored. Croad now wants Newcrest to pay for a new roof for his shop because so much damage has been done by workmen that it leaks.

He blames his marriage breakup on the fight, saying it took a huge emotional toll.

The fight has cost him dearly. He estimated he had spent $200,000 fighting to stay and although he recovered around $30,000 in costs, he still had a large overdraft.

He pays Tram Lease $36,000 plus GST annually for the ground lease on the small shop he owns. The ground rent next comes up for renewal in 2020.

Tim Dromgool of Newcrest said he was pleased with Broadway Junction, whose tenants include Pumpkin Patch, adidas, Eurostyle and Secrets.

Alan McMahon, director of research and corporate services at Colliers International, said the project had been a success due to strong leasing demand for its 10 shops.

"Both Westfield's 277 and Newcrest's Broadway Junction have been almost fully leased," he noted last September, "which reinforces the strength of Newmarket, and is also indicative of strong retailer demand in the Auckland market."

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