The buyers of a former sawmill site at Waverley hope to tenant it with new users that will provide local jobs.
Steven and Mica Kerridge are commercial property investors who moved from Auckland to Palmerston North, and then to Whanganui. They have bought the 4.6ha site that adjoins Waverley Railway Station, with settlement date March 5.
The site is zoned industrial and includes large sheds - some relatively new, an office building and three houses. Two of the houses had been sold prior and the third will probably be demolished.
Waverley Sawmill was bought and closed by Spectrum Group managing director Wade Glass in March 2019. At that time he said it was an ideal site for a modern automated mill.
However, he axed the idea in February 2020 and the site was put on the market with an asking price of $950,000. Steven Kerridge said their offer was around that.
"We got it at a decent rate," he said.
The site is now for lease, either as a whole or in parts. It would suit a trucking company, a builder of prefabricated houses or a storage business, Kerridge said.
One area is contaminated by timber treatment chemicals. The drying kiln is being dismantled and most of the machinery is gone.
The Kerridges plan to recycle the waste metal there, and they would like to make other improvements that will suit their tenants.
"[The properties] are fine the way they are, but we like to buy things that we can work on and get involved in.
"It would be nice if we could attract somebody from Waverley town who could come and set up shop and employ some of the local people."
Steven Kerridge was a busy electrician in Auckland. He only got to see his first son Archer at weekends, wife Mica said. He wanted to "change the game plan" and researched commercial property in Manawatū.
They sold Kerridge Electrical and their first purchase was the former Longburn meatworks near Palmerston North. Its tenants include IcePak and Goodman Fielder.
Then they invested in commercial property in Heads Rd and Manuka St in Whanganui - "big bits of land with sheds on them, which is what we prefer".
In March last year they bought the former Whanganui Post Office building in Ridgway St from Graham Fisher, who had adapted it to become the city's Community House.
"[Graham Fisher] did a wonderful job, in my opinion. It's a good building and everybody gets on well. You can't build buildings like that any more," Steven Kerridge said.
The Kerridges found themselves driving from Palmerston North to Whanganui a lot, and they moved here in September.
"We thought we actually like Whanganui a bit better. It's got a bit more character," Mica Kerridge said.
They have two children, 2-year-old Archer and 9-month-old Freddie.
The Kerridges are both enjoying their new occupation.
"It's awesome. We have a dream job."