Wellington buildings have long trading history

10:01 PM Tuesday July 9, 2019 True Commercial

The buildings for sale span eight freehold titles and have dual street frontages to Wellington’s Allen and Blair Sts. Photo / Supplied

Two big commercial buildings spanning eight freehold titles with dual street frontages to Allen and Blair Sts in Wellington’s Courtenay Quarter, have been placed on the open market for sale for the first time in more than 100 years.

For sale is a two-storey building spreading from Allen to Blair St along with an adjoining three-storey building which also spans those two streets. They are collectively referred to as The Exchange Building but comprise the Wellington Produce Exchange Building and the Thompson Brothers’ building.

The properties at 7-23 Allen St and 10-24 Blair St, are being marketed for sale by Fraser Press and Mark Hourigan of Bayleys Wellington as one lot with tenders closing at 4pm on Wednesday August 7.

Press says the almost fully-leased freehold property with Central Area zoning comes to the market having undergone a recent seismic upgrade to 80 per cent new building standard (NBS) – strengthening its appeal to tenants and lenders along with having a refreshed exterior colour scheme.

It has total lettable space of 6629sq m across three levels with 39 basement car parks and storage, occupying a total 3263sq m of land.

“Today it is home to 20 well-established tenants with investment risk spread across ground floor retail and hospitality, and first and second floor office use,” Press says.

Tenants include restaurants Monsoon Poon and Little India, Ora and Kura galleries, digital agency Catch Design, and Haines Recruitment with state-owned enterprise, Landcorp, the anchor office tenant occupying the entire second floor of 7-23 Allen St.

The property is earning about $1.6 million net income per annum from the 20 different tenants with identified potential for rental growth, says Press.

He says that in 1900s Wellington, daily wholesale produce auctions were centred on Blair and Allen Sts with vehicles entering the warehouse buildings and offloading produce directly onto the market trading floor. This activity was complemented by the wholesale grocery operation of Thompson Brothers Ltd.

Acknowledged as being good representative examples of inter-war stripped classical masonry warehouse buildings, the properties add to the Blair and Allen streetscapes and are widely credited as having been central to the city’s commercial and economic development in the early 20th century.

For Press, the properties hold personal significance. In 1930, his great-great grandfather bought the wholesale grocery and ship providore business Thompson Brothers Ltd - along with the buildings it operated from. His father Warren is the property manager for the combined buildings today and as individuals, members of the extended Press family are part of the current ownership consortium of the property.

Turners and Growers, a long-time force in the wholesale produce trading market from this location, holds a 33 per cent share.

“From the Press family’s perspective, the original shareholding structure has become more fragmented over time and with strengthening and refurbishment work now completed, and established tenants on new leases, the owners have decided it’s an appropriate time to market the building,” Press says.

Hourigan says internally the property showcases many A-grade character tenancies with exposed native timber ceilings and truss structures, polished native timber floors and architecturally-designed steel work from recent strengthening.

“In addition to the existing package, there is still scope for a new vision and fresh ideas to ensure this building remains a market leader within the ever-popular character category of investment.

“This property has been a ground-breaker in showing how heritage buildings can have a positive economic and social value to Wellington city.”

Hourigan says the property has the advantages of character and seismic resilience thanks to recent upgrades, underpinned by the location which straddles two of the key laterals off Courtenay Place.