Three industrial Morningside units

4:16 PM Friday March 2, 2018 Colin Taylor

The olive green frontages of the three adjoining units for sale at 34-38 Ethel St, Morningside. Photo / Supplied

Three adjoining industrial warehouse units are for sale in Auckland’s city fringe suburb of Morningside presenting a buyer with the option of occupying all the units or moving into one and leasing out the other two for income.

“The property comes with 19 carparks,” says Alex Wefers of JLL who is marketing 34, 36 & 38 Ethel St through an expressions of interest campaign closing on Wednesday March 28 unless they sell prior to that date.

The three strata titled units form one freehold title. The unit at 34 Ethel St is 603sq m, No 36 is 517sq m, and No 38 is 501sq m giving a combined floor space of 1621sq m occupying a total site area of 1976sq m.

“The properties could retain their Light Industrial usage or a purchaser might wish to seek a change of use,” Wefers says.

He says the units have a New Building Standard rating of 75 per cent and are of solid construction.

“There’s very little vacancy in Morningside and demand is high, so owner-occupiers and investors alike, should have no problem filling the space to lease with new tenants. The flexibility of the property is a bonus giving a new owner the option of altering space requirements to suit,” says Wefers.

“Their location is an attractive drawcard for businesses, being just 450m from the Morningside train station and 750m from Eden Park.” 

Wefers says Morningside is traditionally known as the home of light industrial businesses on the city fringe, but it’s undergoing gentrification.

“This has largely been driven by the Auckland Unitary Plan and community members who saw an opportunity to implement their vision for their suburb. As a result, Morningside is evolving into a Ponsonby-like destination – offering the advantages of being only 4km from Auckland’s CBD, having a train station and being a short walk to Eden Park.

“The City Rail Link [CRL] is set to change Auckland by better connecting the city centre to the city fringe suburbs. For residents of Morningside and Kingsland it will only be a 10 to 15-minute commute to the CBD. The CRL will essentially double the number of trains, double the capacity of people on trains and will enable residents in some of the outer regions of the city, to have the convenience of only being a 30-minute commute from the CBD.

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An interior view of the unit for sale at 38 Ethel St. Photo / Supplied

“For inner-city suburbs like Morningside, the CRL will give commuters from further afield better access; which increases the importance of having an attractive community with cafes, bars and shopping areas.

“Along with the CRL, changes made under the Unitary Plan have seen many of the traditional warehouses in the area re-zoned to Mixed Use, enabling their conversion to other uses. This is akin to the evolution we have seen along Ponsonby Rd, Karangahape Rd and the Kingsland portion of New North Rd, which have been transformed into destination shopping and eating destinations,” says Wefers.

While Morningside is only in the early stages of this trend, some Light Industrial properties have been converted to cafes and bars; a prime example being Crave Cafe which opened in the latter half of 2016 after relocating from smaller premises nearby. The cafe was launched by The Collective - a small group of locals which share its profits with the community.

“It’s great to see a former warehouse transformed into a funky and trendy place. Crave is a good example of kiwi ingenuity; and changes to real estate that can be implemented by members of a diverse community seeking improvements for their neighbourhood.”

Wefers says another change is taking place at 14-18 McDonald St, where a food hall-styled development is under construction. “It’s set to resemble the fashionable hospitality hangouts in Britomart and Ponsonby Central, with the inclusion of fashion labels and some office space.

“The popular Urbanaut Brewery operates out of 597 New North Rd, and a few doors down is Flight 605, a well-patronised craft beer and fries bar.”

At 580 New North Rd, a new eight-level apartment block of 60 apartments is to be constructed called Station 580. The developer is Kells Group Ltd and construction is estimated to commence in mid-2018. “This property will add to the growing community making the most of its closeness to the train station and the hubs at Morningside and Kingsland,” says Wefers.

JLL agent Jarred Hill says high density low rise residential is becoming a norm for the area. “The low-rise residential complexes that are popping up in the area translate to a need for more cafes, retail and entertainment areas, and the suburb is responding to this by making it happen,” he says.

“Another example of a recent warehouse/showroom conversion in the area is 28 Ethel St, which was formerly a warehouse for a construction company. Since the zoning change, it has been converted to a funky showroom for a florist, and gift shop for Wild Poppies, which also specialises in cupcakes and cakes.”

Wefers says the Courier Post property at 11 McDonald St, also demonstrates the gentrification of Morningside. Having been Light Industrial space for many years, the property has recently been sold and, due to the Unitary Plan changing the underlying zoning to Mixed Use, the new owner could reposition it in the market.

“It could become low rise apartments or office blocks with retail underneath; or, being such a large site, could become a retirement village or supermarket.

“Architects and designers are becoming more creative about how such space is used and we are seeing more open areas that draw people in. I believe this is reflective of the lifestyle many millennials are after, moving away from traditional office and retail spaces to cohesive Mixed Use environments where more interaction can take place.

“That being said, larger traditional businesses have also identified Morningside as a great location. Last month Briscoes Group commenced development of its head office at 1-5 Taylors Rd which will include a Rebel Sport retail store.

“By basing themselves in Morningside, Briscoes Group has essentially placed itself in a location that provides a great work environment for their staff, which assists with staff retention.  The accessibility to transport linkages, cafes, retail and residential accommodation are obvious draw-cards. In addition, the company is well positioned to benefit from a diverse pool of possible employees living in the area,” says Wefers.

In further redevelopment in Morningside, textile businesses have refurbished properties on Ethel and Collins Sts demonstrating their intention of remaining in the area, with Wall Fabrics moving from Grey Lynn to Morningside’s Gordon Rd.

“An interesting fact about Morningside is that it’s home to the office of Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.  I sold 656 New North Rd to an add-value investor back in 2016, and the property was then refurbished for its new tenant, the New Zealand Labour Party,” Wefers says.