Whoa! Studios gets go-ahead for sale

7:55 PM Friday October 5, 2018 True Commercial

The film production and family entertainment complex at 8-16 Valley Rd is identified by a blue border. Photo / Supplied

Whoa! Studios has put its West Auckland property up for sale and leaseback.

Founded by tech entrepreneur David Sutherland, the big theme park in Henderson became a hit with children, parents and corporate eventgoers after opening in 2016.

Whoa! Studios combines state-of-the-art film production with live shows; an outdoor play area with New Zealand’s first crochet play net; and family-friendly restaurant The Grounds established by chef Ben Bayly.

Press write ups have lauded the venue and restaurant which are based in a re-purposed industrial property.

The award-winning operation, at 8-16 Henderson Valley Rd, adapted premises once home to farm equipment supplier Hooper Machinery.

Whoa! Studios has now put its land and buildings up for sale, on a new 10-year lease-back with fixed annual rent growth.

Colliers International director Andrew Hooper is marketing it with colleagues Hamish West, Josh Coburn and Caroline Cornish. The 5916sq m freehold property is for sale by deadline for offers closing at 4pm on October 30, unless it sells earlier.

Hooper says hasn’t come across anything even remotely similar in his 20 years in the property industry.

“It’s one of a kind. Nowhere else in Auckland is there a working studio, live theatre, acclaimed restaurant and an adventure playground on the grounds of a single property.”

He says Whoa! Studios and The Grounds are signed to new sub-leases earning $636,339 plus GST in net annual rent, backed by a 12-month bank bond.

“The property is zoned Metropolitan Centre, allowing for some of the highest density of development in Auckland. With established rail infrastructure and substantial residential development in the area, Henderson is considered a priority for regeneration by Auckland Council, Panuku and Auckland Transport. This exceptional property puts the ‘fun’ into solid investment fundamentals.”

West says the corner site is on two freehold titles — a 4308sq m title at 8-14 Henderson Valley Rd and a 1608sq m title at 16 Henderson Valley Rd.

The main entrance comprises a sealed car park with 42 spaces, shared equally between Whoa! Studios and The Grounds. A staff entrance and car park are off Smythe Rd.

“Visitors first notice the colourful crochet play net, which was designed by Japanese artist Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam,” says West.

“It took two years to make the net by hand from more than 70km of nylon. The outdoor play area, designed by Kiwi studio set artists contains a ship in a lagoon, castle and a climbable space rocket.”

The play area and crochet net are on a separate title that’s not included in the sale, although the vendor is open to a future sale to the purchaser of the building investment.

The studio and café are in a 1902sq m warehouse and office building, dating to around the 1960s.

West says the warehouse is split into three bays, two fitted out as theatres, including a green room and a server room. The third bay is a retail space with amenities.

“The public entrance to Whoa! Studios is via a high-stud grand foyer that provides access to Bay 2, which contains the live show theatre and restaurant. Bay 1 is fitted out as a fully functional sound stage.”

West says The Grounds occupies the majority of the space along the eastern elevation, overlooking the playground.

“This area comprises a high-quality restaurant with a share of the amenities. The restaurant is mostly open-plan, with a mezzanine dining area at the southern end of the building, a private dining room at the northwestern side and 150sq m of outdoor dining space.”

The 107.4sq m office, to the southwest of the main building, is open plan with associated kitchen and bathroom amenities. The lease to the property is held by Sutherland’s company Axio Investments Ltd.

Both Whoa! Studios Ltd and The Grounds Cuisine Ltd are signed to 10-year sub-leases with five-year rights of renewal, extending the final expiry dates to December 1, 2033. The sub-leases both provide for fixed 2.75 per cent annual rent growth.

Whoa! occupies 1389sq m of the venue, paying $406,581 plus GST in net annual rent from commencement on December 1, 2018.

The Grounds occupies 513sq m, paying $229,758 plus GST in net annual rent from the same date.

The zoning allows for intensive mixed-use development of up to 72.5m in height. Permitted uses include commercial, leisure, high-density residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services.