By Colin Taylor
Three tenanted retail units in a landmark heritage building in Newtown, Wellington, which was originally home to the Langham Private Hotel, are on the market for sale as one parcel.
Units 11, 12 and 13, 112 Riddiford St, are leased to Gaia Organics and two cafes; and are they are being marketed for sale by private treaty through Tim Bowden of Colliers International.
The units are on the ground floor of a well-known three-storey building constructed in 1906. The elaborate Edwardian-era neoclassical styling, which includes parapets, classical pediments and a stained-glass edged veranda, makes it one of the most recognisable buildings in Newtown.
The building was originally home to the Langham Private Hotel, says Bowden.
"The hotel opened in 1907 and according to council records, that same year the residents of Newtown held a poll and voted that the suburb become a 'dry' area. The hotel therefore was not able to hold a liquor licence."
In 1951, the retail units were upgraded and much of the remainder of the building was renovated in 1974. At this time, it was renamed the Ashleigh Court Private Hotel. Further refurbishment of the building, including a detailed restoration of the facade, was completed in 1997. It has since been converted to retail and apartment accommodation and is now protected by a Historic Places Trust Category 2 rating.
The three retail units for sale offer an opportunity to purchase well-located property in the popular retail sector, says Bowden.
"The property is in a great location, on the major junction of Rintoul and Riddiford Sts which is a busy and high-profile spot. It's also an excellent opportunity for investors to add accessibly-priced retail property to their portfolios, at a time when the retail market nationwide is gaining strength."
The chance to buy in a fast-changing and developing suburb is also expected to appeal to buyers, says Bowden.
"Newtown is a centrally-located suburb with some major regional amenities including Wellington Hospital and Wellington Zoo. It has a thriving commercial centre serving a large residential area, where property values are increasing under the pressure of high demand. This means the Newtown commercial centre is now an up and coming hot spot in Wellington, with commercial property keenly sought after."
The three units, on individual titles, total 137sq m in floor area and generate around $45,000 plus GST in net annual rent. They are positioned to the north of the wedge-shaped building and have dual frontages to Riddiford St and Rintoul St.
Units 11 and 12 have been combined into a single tenancy, with the dividing wall removed to accommodate Bordeaux Cafe. Unit 13 has been subdivided into two separate tenancies; occupied by Gaia Organics fronting Riddiford St, and Pranah Cafe, which also occupies Unit 14 and uses the Rintoul St side of Unit 13 for storage.
The units feature a high stud, with character features including exposed beams and painted plasterboard ceilings and walls. The Riddiford St frontage has full-height glazing.
The leases to Gaia Organics and well-established local cafe operators make the units an ideal buy-and-hold investment, while the opportunity to develop and add value is also expected to attract purchasers, Bowden says.
"Several land owners in Newtown have taken the opportunity to redevelop their properties to cater to the area's changing demographic, as the effect of rising house prices takes hold. These retail units are a great chance for investors to enter the retail market and perhaps look to refurbish the units to increase the income stream, taking advantage of the prime location."
The property is a few minutes' walk from Wellington Hospital, with many retail and service providers in the area catering to the hospital as well as the established resident population, he says.
"Newtown is a thriving suburb because it's close to the CBD as well as the hospital being located here. It's traditionally a favourite base for students and young professionals and is now increasingly popular among young families. As a result Newtown has undergone significant development in recent years with many small multi-unit residential developments underway.
"Multiple bus routes connect the area to the CBD and the airport is just a 10-minute drive away," Bowden adds.
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Tom Bowden, Colliers International