Kensington site eyed for medical centre

By Mike Barrington

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The Northland Regional Council, which owns the Countdown Kensington site, is weighing up options for its future.
The Northland Regional Council, which owns the Countdown Kensington site, is weighing up options for its future.

The soon-to-be-superseded Countdown Kensington supermarket in Whangarei may become part of the medical cluster in the area that includes Kensington Hospital.

Other possibilities for the site include retail redevelopment, Northland Regional Council chief executive officer Malcolm Nicholson says. The NRC owns the supermarket and its site.

The property, which covers just under a hectare, consists of 12 lots with a land value of $3.635million and capital value of $5.5million.

Mr Nicholson said he understood the property had been bought as a commercial investment. It had not been inherited from the former Northland Harbour Board like some other NRC properties.

Countdown - previously operating as Woolworths - has been on the site at the Kamo Rd-Kensington Ave corner since 1988. The supermarket chain that operates Countdown, Progressive Enterprises, is believed to have paid $5.75million for the old Mitre 10 building in Manse St in Regent and it now has Robert Cunningham Construction organising changes on that site, which has a capital valuation of $6.05million.

When the NRC lease runs out at Countdown Kensington in July next year the 84 supermarket staff are expected to be installed in what will be the new Countdown Regent store. A Foodstuffs New World supermarket is across the road.

Mr Nicholson said NRC staff were investigating possible use of the Countdown Kensington site so the council could provide direction on its future before the local government elections next month or for the site to be on the agenda for early consideration by the new council. Possible uses included finding a new tenant, redeveloping the site, and selling it.

Half a dozen people were expressing interest in variations on those options.

"One of the concepts being looked at is redevelopment to extend the city's medical facilities.

"Similarly, there is interest in retail possibilities."

A Progressive spokeswoman told the Northern Advocate the estimated total investment in the Mitre 10 conversion project would be about $16.5million.

Progressive has also announced plans to build a new, larger, $23million Countdown supermarket in Dargaville.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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