A 12,000-square metre piece of Whangarei's waterfront will be marketed to overseas buyers, with the completion of a public walkway running along the seaside perimeter of the site.
Ian Moratti, whose company Golden Kiwi Holdings had owned 44 to 48 Riverside Dr freehold since June 2013, said he had spent 13 years buying up leases on the properties and the time had come to sell. Mr Moratti's original vision had been a hotel and luxury apartment complex with up to 200 units on the site, currently occupied by a number of marine industry businesses.
The Hundertwasser Art Centre project was looking more and more likely to proceed, reaching 63 per cent of its $16.25 million funding goal after the announcement of a $4 million Government contribution. Mr Moratti said this, along with other Whangarei attractions, would form part of the marketing campaign.
"We still think it lends itself to a four to five-star hotel. It would go together with the Hundertwasser, which needs a classy hotel and we haven't got any," he said.
A previous deal with Auckland property developer Andrew Fonagy, who said he would look at investing in the site if the Hundertwasser Art Centre went ahead, had since fallen through.
Golden Kiwi paid $1.9 million to Whangarei District Council for the site, plus a $600,000 bond which council would release on the completion of work to extend the Hatea Loop along the waterside perimeter of the property, along with 25 carparks.
"Before we marketed it we wanted to build that [walkway], and get it all tidied up," Mr Moratti said. "We're starting to seriously look for developers now. It wasn't on the open market before."
The property would be sold through Colliers International and Harcourts, with marketing documents describing the property as providing holding income of $90,000 + GST per annum, and zoned for 300 square metres of retail plus a hotel up to 15 metres high.
Chairman of council's 20/20 inner city development committee, Phil Halse, said the piece of walkway was an example of the "wins" that came from council working with private investors. Golden Kiwi Holdings had also committed to providing 25 carparks on the site.
"This is a beautiful asset for our community. It's also a safer, wider path than the piece along the road (Riverside Dr) and it opens up part of the foreshore that had been hidden for decades behind workshops and warehouses," said Cr Halse.
The walkway has a concrete wall embossed with bubbles and waves and was built on the foundation of the old seawall.