Commercial and industrial buildings in hot demand in Whangarei

By Imran Ali -
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The old Surplus Direct building in Walton St has changed hands.
The old Surplus Direct building in Walton St has changed hands.

Aucklanders are not only snapping up residential properties in Whangarei for investment but also commercial and industrial buildings which have seen a 71 per cent increase in sales this year.

L J Hooker Whangarei has sold 12 commercial and industrial properties in the first nine months of this year compared to seven over the same time in 2015.

Those properties are located in areas such as Maunu Rd and Port Rd.

The company's commercial and industrial broker, John Haselden, said an increase of 71 per cent in sales could easily be seen as a vote of confidence in Whangarei or Northland's economy in general.

"In the many conversation with prospective buyers or investors, they see Whangarei putting its name on the map as a desirable place to live and work.

"We are relatively close to Auckland, with a good climate, so the general sentiment seems to be upside rather than downside in terms of the business environment," he said.

Mr Haselden said, apart from out of towners buying up big, there were existing businesses in Whangarei that looked to upscale or purchase and lease out the building.

A local business, Chilltech, is moving to new premises because it needs a bigger space for its staff, equipment, and vehicles.

After operating from its Clyde St premises for 20 years, owner Richard Crum bought the Surplus Direct building on Walton St and the relocation is expected to be in the first quarter of next year.

Chilltech started in a little alleyway on Commerce St and now has 23 employees.

"We've grown again from 12 to 23 staff, with 21 vehicles, there's not enough space for our car park, office workshop area, and storage," Mr Crum said.

He had been looking for a bigger premises for the last three years, including buying land and building on it, but could not find one closer to or in town.

The Walton St building is nearly four times larger than the current office on Clyde St and Mr Crum said the new premises should, hopefully, be ideal for the next 20 years.

The Lowes and Partners building in Bank St was bought by Auckland investors.
The Lowes and Partners building in Bank St was bought by Auckland investors.

"I think the economy is really good at the moment. Residential housing sector is probably leading the way and the commercial sector is following on from that.

"Once the dairy sector picks up, it should have a tricking effect on businesses. The outlook for Whangarei is really good," he said.

Reserve Bank Governor Graeme Wheeler was in Whangarei this week talking to business leaders and said Whangarei was becoming increasingly attractive to Auckland investors.

Mr Wheeler said investors were finding they could get a better return by investing in properties in Whangarei.

He said Northland's economy was growing at the moment, which made the district look very attractive.

"Rental returns from Auckland property is around 3 per cent. Northland is getting a lot of investor activity from Auckland, driven by the expectation of continual commercial growth," he said.

Mr Wheeler said Northland's property market was now catching up to the growth of the rest of the country, particularly Auckland, after years of lagging behind.

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