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Former tourism headquarters mooted for new CBD apartment and retail complex

The building now for sale at 60-84 Dickens Street is known as Tourism House, reflecting its role in the 1990s as a regional tourism operations base. The site also once housed Napier’s central city bus depot and is today home to a mix of retail and commercial tenants.

The three-storey building’s listing for sale has sparked renewed discussion of the site’s development potential. It has been tipped for a major refurbishment and repurposing to create a new mixed-use complex, blending apartments with ground-floor retail or hospitality.

Demand for inner-city living in Napier has burgeoned amid ongoing regeneration of the CBD and as the region’s swelling population fuels a shortage of quality housing.

The freehold land and buildings at 60-84 Dickens Street, Napier, are now being marketed for sale by way of an auction on 19 March, through Bayleys Napier.

Salespeople Kerry Geange and Mark Evans said the property for sale consisted of a building of some 2,220 square metres on 1,784 square metres of freehold land with multiple car parks.

Mr Geange said the site offered attractive mixed-use possibilities for a developer.

“This significant property in the heart of Napier’s CBD provides an opportunity to capitalise on the growing interest to live, work and play in this region. With a substantial floor area over three levels, and some 30 metres of retail frontage onto busy Dickens Street, a modern mixed-use redevelopment here will quickly become a destination,” said Mr Geange.

“A modern ‘reskinning’ and interior refurbishment of the building by a creative and experienced developer could create a legacy project which would be a cornerstone of Napier’s CBD revitalisation.”

Mr Geange said a former pedestrian walkway through the property to Civic Square presented the opportunity to revitalise the site with a modern urban “laneway” project – supporting retail and hospitality tenancies at ground level.

Residential accommodation was a compelling option on upper levels due to the region’s growing population and demand for housing – particularly the rising demand for quality accommodation in the inner city, he said.

“The Hawke’s Bay’s population growth has exceeded all recent forecasts, now exceeding 160,000 people,” Mr Geange said.

“Residential demand is rising, with a current supply shortage of some 1,500 residential dwellings, according to Napier City Council. Planners have identified the need for some 10,000 new dwellings by 2045.”

Mr Geange said nine existing tenancies at the Dickens Street site would provide valuable holding income while a new owner completed their design and, potentially, confirmed apartment sales off plans.

The building houses a mix of hospitality, retail and commercial tenants, generating net rental income of approximately $135,000 plus outgoings and GST per annum. Additional vacant space could be utilised to increase income for a long-term hold or investor.

Tenants include a café, chocolatier, locksmith and tattooist, along with a print services outlet and two commercial office tenants.

Mr Evans said the vendor had obtained a range of technical reports and background material including engineering assessments, preliminary refurbishment and strengthening plans and designs, preliminary cost estimates and planning information – all of which were available to potential buyers.

The property, which was built in the 1960s, has an Initial Evaluation Procedure seismic rating of 34 percent of new building standard – with a structural solution identified to achieve 80 percent of new building standard as part of a refurbishment.

“There is car parking to the rear, which could be extended through reconfiguration of the existing floorplan, or built over to create more lettable space. A subdivision consent has been granted over the rear of the property, which could provide further options to a new owner,” said Mr Evans.

A carefully planned redevelopment would be underpinned by evolving economic and demographic trends sweeping the region, he said.

“The growing population is boosting the need for residential and commercial property. Demand for inner-city, low maintenance living is on the rise, as is the demand for shopping and hospitality in the CBD.

“As the local commercial sector benefits, this is lifting demand for regional representation from national and international brands,” said Mr Evans.

The Dickens Street property is zoned Inner City Commercial under Napier City Council’s district plan.

“This zoning, along with the council’s policy of increasing intensity of development and diversification of use within Napier’s CBD, while protecting and enhancing the character of the inner CBD, underpins the opportunity for a mixed-use developer to really make a mark by creating a legacy project at this site.”

Mr Evans said the council planned significant public investment and improvements in the immediate vicinity which would complement and add value to development at the site.

Residential, retail and commercial activities would also be underpinned by the property’s central location, within easy walking distance of the art-deco, shopping and local government precincts, as well as the concentration of family entertainment and recreation along Marine Parade, he said.

Amenities within close proximity include supermarkets, gyms, medical centres and a wide range of national-brand retailers.

The location was well served with public transport and lay within 10 minutes’ drive of State Highway 2 and Hawke’s Bay Regional Airport and about 25 minutes from Hastings CBD, Mr Evans said.

Click here for more information on the property.

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