A 125-year-old heritage building dubbed the 'Ministry of Works' has new owners.
Shane Hobson came to Whanganui from Hamilton last year, while Auckland filmmaker Greg Wood is planning on making the move.
"We managed to convince some friends to tip some money in the pot, and we paid for it on April 30," Hobson said.
Bee You Dance and Fitness Studio, Assassins Muay Thai, NZ Hempress, and The Cheep Shop will all remain as tenants, but much of the ground floor is now vacant.
"All the (bottom) windows were painted out and curtained and the doors were never open," Hobson said.
"That's not what I wanted. I wanted the place to be alive."
Ideally, he would like to see a cafe or a gallery move into the front, with the back potentially being turned into office and studio space.
"It would be great to have something that's open five to seven days a week, with people coming in and spending time here."
As for internal work, he said he would leave that to whoever moved in.
"They can reconfigure it as they wish, and we'll give them a rent discount for a period of time.
"The building itself is nearly completely timber. That is quite different to a lot of others around here, which are brick-clad or all masonry."
According to heritage inventory information, it is the largest pre-1900 two-storey building remaining in Whanganui.
Wood is a distant grandson of Whanganui's first mayor, William Hogg Watt.
"He and his mate Thomas Ballardie Taylor established a shipping company on the site where the Ministry of Works building is now, in around 1850-ish," Wood said.
"It burned down, they rebuilt it, then James Sclanders rented some space in it.
"His business thrived and he decided to build his own bespoke warehouse. The original building was knocked down to make way for it."
Sclander's warehouse was built in 1894.
Since then it has housed Levin and Co, JJ McCaskey & Sons, TAB, Whanganui Police Station cells, Eide & Co, and Caroline's Nightclub.
An application was made to demolish the building in 2000, but it was cancelled after "a groundswell of resistance from the community", Wood said.
It was subsequently sold to the late Whanganui artist and heritage advocate Ross Mitchell-Anyon, with the Youth Advice Centre (YAC) moving into the bottom floor in 2001.
It was Mitchell-Anyon who added the 'Ministry of Works' letters to the front of the building, Wood said.
Wood said he would be relocating to the River City at some point, but at the moment his film work was still predominantly Auckland-based.
"I'm a bit obsessed with architecture and history, and if you put the two together Whanganui becomes a very exciting place.
"It feels like a town that is just so full of potential. That's what makes me happy when I get there."
He didn't have a background in construction or development, but with the purchase of 62 Taupo Quay he had suddenly found himself as its property manager, Hobson said.
"I do video projection work for music festivals, and I'm actually working in Whanganui as a coach for start-up businesses.
"MSD (Ministry of Social Development) run a 'be your own boss' programme, so if you're a client and walk in there with a fabulous idea about getting off a benefit and into self-employment MSD will tag some money to that person and I'll take them through the business planning process.
"It's great. It's really enjoyable work."
Wood said Hobson's projection work could come to the fore in his new home town.
"Shane is amazing. He will set up a projector in the middle of town at midnight just for the hell of it.
"We were talking the other day about throwing a whole lot of bean bags on that green space next door (1 Victoria Avenue) and projecting movies on the wall.
"Watch this space, Whanganui, he's going to do some cool stuff."