Landmark slice of eighties Manukau building

5:00 AM Saturday March 5, 2016 Paul Charman

The Bexley office building, at 609-611 Great South Road, stands out as a landmark.

Eye of the Tiger, Living on a Prayer, Total Eclipse of the Heart . .. .

All that feel-good 1980s music comes flooding back when you visit the Manukau corporate headquarters of the once high-flying, Bexley Corporation.

Now the Singapore owner of this remarkable triangular-shaped office building has put it up for sale.

A new owner could perhaps occupy the vacant top floor and collect passing rent of $215,000 a year from the other tenants. “If the entire property was leased, along with the surplus car parks, we believe it could generate rent of $318,000 a year,” says the agent, who is Savills joint managing director Paddy Callesen.

The property is for sale by private treaty closing on March 18.

Originally developed as a statement exemplifying the innovation and unlimited potential of the heady 80s, the 4137sq m site comes with a free-standing warehouse at the rear.

This was also built by Bexley, to house the company’s building division.

Bexley was one of about 30 property companies of its day, Callesen recalls.

He sees the building as a legacy from the past, one recalling the development companies of the 1980s. And Callesen should know.

He worked in the building in 1989, when Bexley crashed and burned, along with many of the city’s property development companies of the day.

“It’s still in good shape and still stands out as a landmark,” he says.

“It was right across the road from the Carter Holt Harvey’s head office property, which had a nine-hole golf course and a lake.

“We would pop over for a round of golf whenever we felt like it. It was a whole new take on work/life balance before it was even thought about.”

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Aerial view of the 609-611 Great South Rd with property defined by red border. 

The Singaporean owner bought the property in 1989 and it has been an outstanding passive investment for him.

“He has worked hard at keeping tenants in an area that has changed massively over the past few years.”

Callesen, who was working in the building when the owner bought, says it was like “talking to a long lost brother” when he was contacted to sell it.

The office building has floors increasing in size from the ground floor of 319sq m, carved into two individual tenancies of 80sq m and 239sq m, the second level of 422sq m divided into two separate tenancies of 195sq m and 227sq m and up to the vacant level two of 534sq m.

There are 47 car parks at a ratio 1:27 sq m.

To the rear of the property is the freestanding 796 sq m warehouse, plus 17 car parks.

This is leased to food importer and distributor Panpac for three years from September 2015, but is built to be two separate tenancies.

“Panpac signed its lease the day after the previous tenant’s lease expired, which is unusual in commercial property.”

Operating expenses amount to $58/sq m.

Since Bexley’s days at the property, the entire area has changed. Across the road AUT now has 12 hectares for its Manukau campus

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The warehouse at the back of 609-611 Great South Rd. 

Nearby Countdown has built a 10,000sq m superstore, as retail and education have taken over as the predominant industries in the area.

The property benefits from a right of way on to Cavendish Rd and next door is Manukau Junction, an intensive retail area converted from a car dealership.

The shopping area could easily expand on to the site as it has the same zoning.

With a current business four zoning and a proposed general business zoning under the Unitary Plan, he says the property is ready for a higher and better use.

“It is under-utilised and is ripe for a number of uses including vehicle sales, large footprint retailing and service operations. Apartment developments are also popping up in the area.”

The property has a high profile Great South Rd frontage about 200 metres from the Te Irirangi on/off ramp to the Southern Motorway.

Manukau City is a growth node within the greater Auckland area and has been, and is, undergoing considerable retail and residential development plus a burgeoning education sector.

“Auckland Council has identified Manukau as an area for intensification, which will be positive for the property.”

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Paddy Callesen, Savills.