Massive port landholding on market

By Colin Taylor

Port Nikau Photo / Bruce Clarke
Port Nikau Photo / Bruce Clarke

101ha previously used for port-related activities in Whangarei expected to attract international buyers.

One of the largest single blocks of city fringe land ever created for sale in New Zealand is on the market on the outskirts of Whangarei's central business district in Northland.

The 101ha comprises 19 unified plots stretching from the industrial sector of central Whangarei well into the city's harbour.

It is predominantly bare, although some heavy industry plant and warehousing is interspersed along the L-shaped site.

The area has been used for port-related activities over several decades but over recent years, many industries have relocated, along with the Port of Northland, to the deep-water facilities at Marsden Point, half an hour south of Whangarei.

Now named Port Nikau, the huge subdivision is being sold through an international tender by Bayleys through executive director David Bayley. He is marketing the property with James Chan and Ross Blomfield of Bayleys Northland.

Bayley says the sheer size of the block meant buyers would have to take a long-term view of developing the site. "And by long-term, we're talking perhaps up to 20 or 30-years," he says.

"The Port Nikau opportunity would, on size, be one of the biggest ever seen in New Zealand's history and would rival three of Auckland's biggest single suburban development sites - Flat Bush south of the city, the former Hobsonville airbase west of the city, and Albany Basin north of the city."

The land is about 5km from State Highway 1 and a branch railway line connects it with the Auckland to Bay of Islands main trunk route.

The Whangarei District Council has changed the property's industrial zoning to one that allows a mixed-used development, which could include commercial, retail and residential use, says Bayley. The application to rezone the land from "Business 4" to a mixed-use zone known as Port Nikau Environment, was approved last year subject to a master plan for development of the site being lodged with the council.

"An initial plan has been lodged with council but is on hold to provide future owners with maximum flexibility as to how the development of the site should proceed," says Bayley. "This will allow new owners to retain the current industrial zoning or to progress through the master planning stage, either adopting the current plan, or incorporating their own vision for the property."

The present owners' plan envisages a phased, mixed-use development, including an urban living zone, a marine industry zone, a town centre zone with retail and food and beverage outlets, and a waterfront living zone for residential dwellings.

"The long-term development prospects for the land are virtually limitless," Bayley says. However, there is an immediate opportunity to unlock value available, with consent obtained to subdivide 12ha at the northern end, creating 21 titles for an industrial business park.

Some existing buildings are leased to industrial tenants and the site is generating more than $600,000 a year.

The three wharves next to the property are used for berthage by a mix of casual recreational users, commercial fishing vessels, and larger maritime craft. This area also contains the former Tenix complex, which features a 5963sq m high-stud warehouse with 1056sq m of additional office space and includes separate painting and hazardous substances buildings in the compound. Tenix was involved in building New Zealand's navy frigates and in-shore patrol vessels. Bayley says any development would most probably take advantage of the existing multiple mooring jetties and sheltered marinas adjoining Port Nikau.

Tenders for the Port Nikau subdivision close on August 4 and Bayley says he expects several interested international parties to be visiting Whangarei over the coming months to conduct due diligence.

"A rare combination of scale, flexible planning options, and the ability to add value, on both a short and long-term timeframe, make this a compelling investment opportunity," he says.

- NZ Herald

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