Fresh ideas explored for Paihia

By Colin Taylor

New uses for resort town's fire station and waterfront cafe could add to village feel.

The waterfront cafe lends itself to continuing as a hospitality venue. Photo / Supplied
The waterfront cafe lends itself to continuing as a hospitality venue. Photo / Supplied

Two prominent buildings in the Bay of Islands' resort town of Paihia have been placed on the market for lease with the community being asked what types of businesses should be accepted as tenants.

The buildings, which house Paihia's fire station and a waterfront cafe adjacent to the central wharf, have the potential to help rejuvenate the town centre.

Both buildings are owned by Far North Holdings, the Far North District Council's commercial property entity. Submissions for the future use and leasing interests of both buildings are being taken by Chester Rendell, manager of Bayleys Paihia, with expressions of interest closing on May 23.

Rendell says Paihia fire station is a 230sq m single-storey building sitting on 924sq m of land with parking for 14 vehicles, and potential access to a large council-owned carpark at the rear of the property.

The fire station is relocating to new premises later this year.

"The rectangular box-like structure and interior layout of the fire station will allow for a relatively straightforward conversion to any number of commercial or retail premises, with the benefit of having a substantial portion of undeveloped land at both the rear and side," says Rendell.

"The building has a prominent street frontage and could be reconfigured into a multi-tenancy location to accommodate the likes of several nationally-branded convenience food retailers such as Subway or Burger Fuel, a brewery-supported hospitality operation such as a Monteith's or Mac's bar, professional chambers, medical centre, or high-end gourmet food retailer such as Nosh or Farro Fresh."

The second property, the waterfront cafe, was built in a pseudo-colonial style and is operating as Hansen's licensed cafe, trading during the day. The 280sq m premises is split over two levels, with the business operating at street level and the upper floor housing offices and a second commercial kitchen.

"With its waterfront location... combined with its closeness to high foot-traffic passing through the carpark, the waterfront cafe lends itself to continuing as a hospitality venue. There is also the potential for some additional retail activity on a small scale," Rendell says.

The cafe could be expanded into the central retail area, increasing prominence and capturing the significant foot traffic moving in and around the area. Rendell says Far North Holdings is approaching development of the properties with an open mind. "Far North Holdings is going out to the commercial property market and saying: 'You tell us what should be in these buildings or what they could be used for, and we'll see how the opportunities fit into the long-term development plans for the town centre'."

Rendell says any new use for the Paihia CBD properties could dovetail into the visionary town centre masterplan launched by the Focus Paihia community group last year with the aim of creating a "village feel" for the town's commercial hub.

"Focus Paihia's draft plan has identified that the social heart of Paihia would be around the existing wharf amenity - what it calls: 'An urban green space which welcomes residents or tourists to linger, grab a bite to eat, or browse the various shops in the area'.

"Any creation of this locality as a social magnet for the town, with the potential to substantially increase pedestrian flows, would have an obvious advantage for the waterfront cafe premises - most likely as a food and beverage/hospitality operation.

"Under this urban design proposal, the fire station's location would become directly adjacent to the enlarged central business district zone - which has also been mooted for a greater degree of pedestrian usage. Quite simply, that would equate to generating high foot traffic numbers directly in front of the premises," Rendell says.

On the block

On offer: Lease of fire station and cafe

Where: Paihia waterfront, Bay of Islands

Agent: Chester Rendell, Bayleys Paihia

Sought: Expressions of interest by May 23.

Wanted: Tenant businesses to help create village feel.

- NZ Herald

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