The huge industrial complex previously housing of one of New Zealand's premier luxury yacht-building companies is up for sale near New Plymouth opening up the possibility of a large-scale marine industry hub to replace it.
Situated at 23 Ocean View Parade, Moturoa, Fitzroy Yachts began building super-yachts in 1997 from its 5890sq m plant adjacent to the city's harbour. Over the ensuing years, the company built 11 multimillion-dollar sailing vessels for wealthy foreign owners including an enormous 50 metre luxury sailing vessel and its last creation, a magnificent 37.5 metre "floating palace" estimated to be worth more than $30 million, launched earlier this year.
However, with no additional yachts or motor boats on the drawing board, the company's foreign-based owner has placed the land and buildings for sale in Bayleys' latest Total Property magazine.
"Buyers are being offered the opportunity to purchase the buildings, plant and equipment on their own for $5.7 million," says Alan Johnston of Bayleys Taranaki, who is marketing the complex for sale by negotiation. "Additionally a purchaser could obtain Fitzroy Yacht's intellectual property and yacht plans for an additional $1.3 million."
Buildings on site include a 3590 sq m open plan high-stud workshop, a sizeable office complex, and car parking for 190 vehicles. The structures feature concrete foundations and flooring with heavy steel framing and a metal exterior.
Johnston says the availability of the former Fitzroy Yachts location has re-ignited calls for the establishment of a large-scale domestically-focused commercial and leisure marina in New Plymouth. "This opportunity was initially highlighted in a 2006 feasibility and cost/benefit report undertaken by Business and Economic Research Limited (Berl)," he says.
The Berl report said though Port Taranaki's existing marina provided basic swing-line moorings, the region's marine sector service facilities were largely under-developed.
"New Plymouth is the only major coastal town in New Zealand without a serviced marina, and is the only port on the western seaboard where boats do not have to cross a bar to enter," the report says.
"New Plymouth's port requires extra berthing facilities for service vessels - particularly as demand increases, and security issues create complications in entering and exiting the main port berths."
A marina could provide the regional infrastructure expected of a coastal city and could encourage community and commercial use - providing a safe haven for yachts and fishing vessels seeking shelter in rough weather.
Potential onshore facilities identified for a marina development around the Ocean View Parade precinct included a fuelling jetty, chandlery and car parking. The Berl report calculated that such a marina would generate about $7.6 million of revenue annually and create up to 70 new full-time jobs
Johnston says the Fitzroy Yachts buildings sit on some 12,000 sq m of land currently leased from Port Taranaki through to 2022, with two further rights of renewal which could take the terminating lease out to 2052. The land is 1200 metres from the suburban Moturoa shopping centre and three kilometres from New Plymouth CBD.
"The former Fitzroy Yachts' location meets virtually every criterion identified by the Berl report with only the simple creation of a slipway needed to complete the jigsaw," he says. "Port Taranaki has already indicated a willingness to lease additional waterfront land to any new tenant at Fitzroy Yacht's premises."
Johnston says that when the Berl report was released in 2006, a large portion of the local business population saw the land and amenities around the Fitzroy Yachts location as being ideal for the establishment of such a marine hub. "However, with Fitzroy Yachts as the anchor tenant and showing little inclination to relocate, that option was never really pursued further," Johnston says.
"The size of the main now-vacant Fitzroy Yachts structure with a stud height of up to 12 metres, supported by the substantial array of ancillary support buildings means multiple tenants - such as a fabricator, a diesel mechanic, a cabinet maker and electrical engineer - could easily work together under the one roof.
"All the necessary infrastructure is onsite for multiple commercial marine support industries, along with an expressed willingness by Port Taranaki to work closely with future tenants with a view to adding value to the surrounding landholdings by creating an all-encompassing marine services hub."
Johnston supports his analysis by quoting the Berl report as stating: "The boatbuilding industry is in fact an amalgam of a number of industries. It can be likened to building a mansion - but floating - and requiring input from a number of industries such as joinery, electrical, electronics, painting, fabrication and mechanical."
He says the development of such a broad-reaching marina development beside New Plymouth harbour could attract the attention of international investors - most likely out of Asia. "There is a fleet of squid boats operating along the inner Taranaki coastline, and tuna and deep-sea trawlers operating further out. These vessels currently bypass New Plymouth for their stevedoring and maintenance requirements which is a lost opportunity for the local economy," he says.
"There is the potential for expansion of the heavy industry marine sector servicing support vessels for the off-shore oil and gas rigs."