Palmerston North’s former PO for auction

2:56 PM Friday March 27, 2015 Colin Taylor

Palmerston North landmark former chief post office at 473-483 Main St.

Palmerston North’s former chief post office building at 473-483 Main St has been placed on the market for sale by mortgagee auction.

Karl Cameron and Lewis Townshend of Bayleys Manawatu are marketing the land and buildings ahead of an auction on April 9 with the agency instructed to handle the sale of the property by Tim Burcher of MBC Law Ltd.

The 1905 Edwardian Baroque landmark building on The Square in the city was designed by Joshua Charlesworth, the architect responsible for many institutional buildings including the Wellington Town Hall and 17 branch banks for the Bank of New Zealand.

Later additions were made to the building in the 1920s and 1930s which is protected by a Category II classification with Heritage New Zealand and under the Palmerston North City Council operative district plan.

Cameron says it is understood the building has a sub-33 per cent New Building Standard (NBS) rating and requires strengthening work.

New Zealand Post occupied the building until 1988 with the banking arm of the business, PostBank, remaining on the site for several years after this.

The property is now in the hands of the mortgagee Aston Investments Ltd which is handling the assets of E2 New Homes and Properties Ltd. – the company which purchased the building in 2012.

The 3596 sq m building, with a rateable value of $3.4 million, sits on a 4034 sq m corner site fronting The Square and Main Street, and is zoned Inner Business.

One tenant operates from the property and Cameron says details of the lease to hospitality operator The Daily, are yet to be clarified – “although it is understood they are one year in to a 10-year lease”.

Cameron says the building has a striking architectural presence and is a significant landmark in Palmerston North. “It deserves the attention of a motivated and visionary investor,” he says.

“Beyond the obvious cultural and heritage aspects of the property lies a redevelopment opportunity given that part of the site has been cleared and is now used for casual parking.

“There has been reasonable activity in this part of town recently with the bus terminal next door on road reserve land fronting Main Street revamped, and the Intercity bus depot joining the i-SITE operation in the middle of The Square directly opposite the property we are selling.

“Nearby, the former city library has been redeveloped as the East Square retail and office complex, and a report from November 2014 puts pedestrian counts on The Square frontage at 43-45 per cent which would be encouraging for a prospective owner.”

Bayleys says E2 New Homes and properties Ltd director Lawrence Wen was publicly vocal about his plans to redevelop the flagship building – currently branded and known as the Highflyers building– into a dining precinct with several food outlets.

“Wen told the media he had tenants confirmed for the property which had earlier been operating as a popular central city pub, Highflyers. Many of the tenants purportedly signed up for the building were well-known national brands.

“Wen claimed earthquake strengthening work was slowing down the process of reopening the building. These delays also hindered progress on Palmerston North’s regional bus terminal which at one stage was to adjoin the old post office site in Main Street,” says the Bayleys’ statement.