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Earthquake-rebuild workers’ village placed on the market for sale

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The residential village specially created to house hundreds of construction workers brought into Christchurch to rebuild the city after the Canterbury earthquakes has been placed on the market for sale or joint venture development.


The 1.7-hectare enclave known as Workotel encompasses what was previously the Riccarton Holiday Park. The location was converted into intensified commercial standard worker accommodation in 2011, and was quickly enhanced to its current configuration – now sustaining a compliment of some 107 accommodation units.

The Workotel inventory includes the original cabins which formed the holiday park, alongside dozens of relocatable and semi-permanent cabins brought in as additional bedrooms - some complete with their own bathroom and kitchenette facilities.

The site at 15 – 21 Main South Road and 29 Ballantyne Avenue in Upper Riccarton still retains the original campground infrastructure – including the laundry, administration office, and storage sites.

The extensive landholding and building portfolio is now being marketed for sale or joint venture development through an expressions of interest process being managed by Bayleys Canterbury.

Salesperson Jeremy Speight said the site’s owners – a mix of Singaporean and New Zealand-based business interests – would consider either selling the real estate assets outright, or entering into a potential joint-venture redevelopment programme with any potential new owner or partner.

Mr Speight said that in addition to the core Riccarton Holiday Park property assets, the Workotel portfolio offered for sale or redevelopment included five established residential dwellings – one of which was the Thistle Guest House.

The freehold land at the Main South Road/Ballantyne Avenue location is zoned residential suburban under the Christchurch City Council plan.

“The permutations for future use of this site and the structures are incredibly broad,” Mr Speight said.

“All of the existing structures on the site could be removed, and the property redeveloped into a new housing neighbourhood – either standalone dwellings, apartments or terraced-style residences subject to council consents.

“There is also enough land – complete with dual entry and exit points from two roads - for retirement village operators to consider this location. Others already operate in the area.

“Alternatively, just the campground assets could be demolished and replaced with new-build dwellings or purpose built student accommodation, with the existing five other houses retained and refurbished to be sold off individually.

“Under these options, the ongoing tenancy of many of the Workotel cabins and houses by construction workers still employed in the city rebuild programme would deliver a considerable holding income stream while the necessary council consents were acquired.

“Or, the site could be retained in its current short-term accommodation format and utilised for social housing backed by the likes of community or religion-based groups. On the other hand, in its current state it could be also utilised for student accommodation – with the Canterbury University campus just two kilometres away.

A move to social housing is supported by a report compiled by The Salvation Army in 2017 that noted Christchurch would need 180 new social housing units a year for the next 10 years to meet demand.

“The options are so varied… which is why the vendor is offering the property for sale outright or to consider any joint venture proposals which may come forward.”

Mr Speight said the value of the relocatable cabins within the portfolio had been independently assessed at more than $1million. They consisted of a mix of single and double-bedroom units. He said that while the majority were suitable for relocation or continued occupancy, some were nearing the end of their economic life. The cabin stock ranged in size from 10 square metres to 34.5 square metres.

The Workotel accommodation portfolio achieved a gross revenue of $1.318 million in the year to May 2018.

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