Opportunity knocks in Manurewa

By Colin Taylor

The potential uses for the Manurewa site are countless. Parts of it could certainly be subdivided and sold off.
The potential uses for the Manurewa site are countless. Parts of it could certainly be subdivided and sold off.

The sale of the Jehovah's Witnesses' headquarters is sure to have people calling at their door, writes Colin Taylor.

More than 7.5ha of waterfront land at Wattle Downs in Manurewa, that has served as the New Zealand headquarters of Jehovah's Witnesses for the last 30 years, has been placed on the market offering a new owner a vast range of opportunities.

The property for sale at 198 Mahia Rd in south Manurewa encompasses approximately 2.3ha of undeveloped land, currently used for grazing, and a further 5.3ha of developed land, which has a wide range of buildings totalling approximately 7272sq m. These are nestled in picturesque grounds that also include a tennis court and have a substantial frontage on Manukau Harbour.

The property is for sale by international tender, closing on August 2, through Bayleys executive director David Bayley, commercial and industrial sales manager Chris Bayley and Dave Stanley of Bayleys' Manukau office.

The buildings comprise an office and administration complex of just under 2000sq m; a two-level residential complex of 2830sq m comprising 33 self-contained apartments and a commercial kitchen and dining area; warehousing, storage and maintenance buildings totalling 2000sq m; and a 472sq m auditorium.

David Bayley says the attractive, mainly brick buildings have been extremely well constructed and have stood the test of time. The interior features rimu joinery throughout and Bayley says the high standard of presentation is a credit to the Jehovah's Witnesses community who have lived and worked on the property.

"I have been in real estate for close to 40 years and this would be the most immaculately presented property that I have ever taken to market. There's literally not a blade of grass out of place and every aspect of the property has been fastidiously maintained over its 30 year history. 'Unique' is an over-used word in real estate but this property certainly fits that description. It's very unusual to get all these different commercial, industrial, residential and lifestyle elements in one property."

Bayleys says it is unlikely any one purchaser would want to use all of these elements but most of the buildings could be adapted for other uses and there would also be potential to subdivide and sell off parts of the property.

Chris Bayley says a number of possible end users have been identified and approached, including retirement village operators, health care and community services providers, educational organisations, developers and other religious organisations.

"The property is already generating quite a bit of interest because it is well located close to the motorway and airport, but with a private harbour frontage. It also has a substantial infrastructure already in place that will be hard to match in any other site and that will help facilitate any future development.

"This includes an extensive array of good quality buildings, magnificently landscaped grounds, an abundance of parking, plenty of vacant land for future expansion and highly specified utility services."

The latter includes a new 250kva diesel-powered generator that provides back-up power for the property and a high quality water bore. Stanley says the property is currently run on half city water and half bore water, with the bore water used mainly to irrigate the extensive grounds but there is an option to draw all of the property's water from the bore. The developed part of the property is also fully security fenced with CCTV cameras, with remote controlled entrance gates.

The entrance leads to a distinctive octagonal reception area linked to the other main building areas. The two-level office and administration centre features a library and boardroom plus spacious offices which have views of the landscaped grounds and foreshore.

A server room houses all the electronic equipment that runs the site, with fibre optic cabling to all of the offices and apartments.

Stanley says the 33 well-appointed, self-contained apartments are around 47sq m in size and are designed to cater for couples or single occupants. They contain a bedroom, bathroom, living area and kitchenette.

Over the years they have housed the South Pacific language translation teams that have worked on site, translating Jehovah's Witnesses' well known Watchtower publications into Pacific Island languages, as well as accommodating other support staff and visitors to Auckland.

This part of the complex also has a commercial laundry and drying room, a fitness room and other recreation areas.

A dining room with seating for 100 has views into the garden and is supported by a large commercial kitchen with a chiller/freezer.

The main warehouse is just over 1000sq m, with a loading dock and canopy. This was previously used for the printing and distribution of the Watchtower but this is now printed in Australia and Japan and air freighted to New Zealand.

Nearby are five separate, but adjoining, maintenance areas that include electrical and mechanical workshops, painting and rubbish collection areas and a former joinery workshop. They are also used for storing and maintaining the property's outdoor machinery and vehicles. Next to the maintenance area is covered car parking for around 48 vehicles and, at the very rear of the property, is a two-level storage building with the ground level currently used as an engineering workshop. Stanley says as with other parts of the property, all of the warehouse areas have been kept in pristine condition.

At the front of the property, on the corner of Mahia and Sykes Rds is a Jehovah's Witnesses' Kingdom Hall, a 250-seat auditorium which is used for worship. It has its own separate entrance and a substantial car park for around 65 vehicles.

Monty Gower, NZ branch co-ordinator for Jehovah's Witnesses, says technological advancements in digital communication, publishing and translation methods, and the consolidation of some New Zealand operations in Australia, mean the organisation no longer needs such a large property.

"Jehovah's Witnesses are committed to maintaining a strong profile and presence in New Zealand and the funds released from the sale will be used in other charitable religious activities, particularly those which have strong community links," says Gower.

- NZ Herald

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