A block of old, soon to be empty buildings in the centre of Whangarei is to be demolished, with no firm plans yet on what will replace them.

The site is owned by Auckland developers Neil Properties, which is the commercial development arm of the Neil Group. The block is bound by John St, James St and Dent St and reaches part way towards Robert St.

Buildings on the left hand side of John St, in a block owned by Neil Properties will be removed. Photo/John Stone
Buildings on the left hand side of John St, in a block owned by Neil Properties will be removed. Photo/John Stone

John St Automotive owner Hapi Brown said he had been hand-delivered a letter which said he had to be out of his John St premises by October 31 this year.

"Please remove all of your property from the premises and leave in a tidy state," the letter read.

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Mr Brown is looking for another building to move to as he has a couple of apprentices with him. He had been in the building since 2000 and understood his building was to be demolished, but he didn't know what was going to be in its place.

Mr Brown said he and North Able Trust on the corner were the last two tenants.

James St Laundromat owner Maryka Buisman had received the same letter but had opted to close down at the beginning of August. She had been on her site for 15 years, and said it was the end of an era for her.

She said it was too expensive to relocate and instead opted to close the business. Some of the washers and dryers had been sold, and the rest had gone to scrap.

She understood the buildings were going to be demolished.

The request for the tenants to leave the building had sparked rumours a long-held plan to build a hotel on the site was back. However, the developers have poured cold water on the idea.

The owner of John St Automotive has until the end of October to move out of his premises while the North Able premises will remain for the time being. Photo/John Stone
The owner of John St Automotive has until the end of October to move out of his premises while the North Able premises will remain for the time being. Photo/John Stone

Neil Group chief executive Phil Ainsworth said rumours of a hotel development were incorrect.

"We are looking at clearing some of the older buildings from the site as the maintenance of those buildings is no longer economic to justify their retention.

"Two of the building on our site will however be retained and will remain in place until such time as a development opportunity presents itself."

He said the two buildings which would remain are those occupied by the North Able Trust - the old car sales showroom fronting Dent St and the old dairy factory building behind it.

Mr Ainsworth said at this stage they have no firm plans for the site.

About 10 years ago the group wanted to build a boutique hotel and retail precinct on the site, but abandoned the plans two years later.

In 2010 the group said a tenant's renovation on land owned by them adjacent to this block "does not preclude development".