Scoop up this popular cafe site

1:57 PM Wednesday June 11, 2014 Colin Taylor

The Catalina Cafe building is in fast-growing Hobsonville Point.

Building houses popular eatery named after historic Auckland flying base

Hobsonville Point's historic Catalina Cafe building has been put on the market after the popular cafe signed a new six-year lease.

"This sale represents a chance to invest in the historic heart of Auckland's fastest-growing community amidst New Zealand's largest residential property development," says Michael Pleciak, the Bayleys Central salesman who is marketing the property for sale by auction next Wednesday, June 18, with colleague Terry Jones of Bayleys Northwest.

The land and buildings are at the corner of Hastings Cres and Buckley Ave, with the Catalina Cafe building occupying a 1200sq m freehold corner site in the middle of the well-developed Buckley precinct, next to an award-winning park and opposite a retirement village being built.

The other tenant, Hobsonville Land Company (HLC), the lead developer of Hobsonville Point, intends renovating its portion of the building to create a visitor information centre, ensuring the property becomes more than ever a hub and meeting point for Hobsonville Point, a community about halfway between Albany and Westgate on SH18.

Catalina Cafe and HLC each rent about 194sq m of space in the building. Both have long-term leases with further rights of renewal that generate an annual income of $164,260.

The cafe takes its name from the historic Catalina flying boats used by the Air Force, which operated from Hobsonville after it was chosen by the Government as a site for both land- and sea-based aviation in 1924.

Twenty eight of the Catalinas were scrapped in August 1952 and the last six in December 1955.

"The Catalina Cafe building is very much part of the fabric of Hobsonville Point -- a master-planned community that will ultimately comprise 3000 homes and amenities to support a population of 8000 to 10,000 people," Pleciak says. "Astute investors wanting a hands-off opportunity with leases locked in will recognise the merits of this property in what is arguably Auckland's most progressive new residential precinct.

"It's at the heart of the development action, with a retirement village under construction directly opposite; Willis Bond developing the 7.4ha Sunderland A-precinct nearby; AVJennings and builders completing a further 70 homes within the Buckley precinct next door including show homes to open in early 2015; and the creation of HLC's sales and information office."

The single-level Catalina Cafe building was built about 1938 and was used by the Air Force latterly as a deployable bulk fuel installation building. Pleciak says engineering reports have substantiated that it is fully compliant with current seismic standards, with a grade of A-plus.

He says the Catalina Cafe has traded from the site since 2010 and has become a destination hospitality spot with a loyal following.

"Original character features were retained when the building was refurbished and the native timber floors, high stud ceiling and sash windows give the cafe a great ambience. A visitor book at the cafe records stories and anecdotes from people who have been part of the fabric of the Air Force base."

HLC will renovate and occupy the former community centre space within the building, using it as an information centre and display suite for the Hobsonville Point project.

"There is big-picture thinking for this part of Auckland," says Pleciak. "Hobsonville Point has been clearly identified as an area to be fast tracked in order to help ease the region's publicised housing shortage squeeze.

"The HLC project is the biggest integrated residential project in New Zealand, with the first 200 homes completed and now occupied.

"With 400 sold there is a lot of construction activity under way as the community rapidly grows and HLC is on track to complete over 250 new dwellings in 2015."

Hobsonville housed the flying boat base until 1967 when the aircraft were phased out.

When larger planes outgrew the airstrip the base became a repair and equipment facility that also provided housing and support for the nearby Whenuapai airbase.

In 2001 the Defence Force began the gradual relocation of its operations from Hobsonville.