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Investors congregate as childcare premises in former church go up for sale

A converted evangelical church on Gisborne’s main street which now houses a national childcare provider has been placed on the market for sale.

The property at 481 Gladstone Road, just northwest of the CBD, is occupied on a long-term lease by the operators of The Point Early Learning Centre, which is licensed to care for up to 60 children, including up to 25 aged under two.

Originally built for the Open Brethren for £17,000, the Gladstone Road church building opened in 1965 in a ceremony attended by long-time Gisborne Mayor Sir Harry Barker. The church boasted special features which, ironically, included a “large sound-proof children’s room”. Initially known as the Bethel Chapel, the property served in more recent years as a Grace Presbyterian church.

The premises at 481 Gladstone Road are now fully leased to PEG 3 Limited, trading as The Point Early Learning Centre. The national operator runs more than 65 early childhood education centres throughout New Zealand. Its tenancy at the Gladstone Road site generates annual net rental income of $122,000 plus outgoings and GST.

The childcare operator’s 10-year lease runs through to 2029, with two further five-year rights of renewal. The lease includes annual rental increases linked to the Consumer Price Index, plus five-yearly market rent reviews.

The freehold land and buildings at 481 Gladstone Road are now being marketed for sale by auction on 18 December, through Bayleys Gisborne.

Salesperson Mike Florance said the property for sale consisted of a single-story former church and associated buildings with a total floor area of approximately 400 square metres on some 2,018 square metres of land. The site includes 15 onsite car parks for parents and staff.

“The Gladstone Road premises today represent a tasteful, aesthetically-pleasing conversion of a landmark church,” said Mr Florance.

“Original features, including a number of traditional wooden church pews, continue to provide unique character to the current-day childcare facility. Polished timber floors, a high-stud ceiling and ample natural light lend the main former church structure a light and airy atmosphere.

“The site offers a well-presented, landscaped frontage to busy Gladstone Road, with a well-equipped outdoor play area and designated car parks to the rear,” Mr Florance said.

The Gladstone Road property lies in an area zoned General Residential under Gisborne District Council’s Tairāwhiti Resource Management Plan.

“This underpins the surrounding area’s ongoing status as a significant residential catchment of family homes, while the site for sale sits just a few hundred metres from the workplaces of the central business district. This makes it an ideal location for handy drop-offs and pick-ups of children by parents en route to and from work,” said Mr Florance.

“The childcare centre’s location on the main arterial route through Gisborne offers easy access from locations right across the city, and puts it within easy reach of a wide range of city amenities.”

Mr Florance said New Zealand’s high childcare participation rate ensured there was strong demand for early childhood education – particularly in locations handy to parents’ homes and workplaces.

Nearly two-thirds of all New Zealand pre-school aged children attend early childhood education, with the number rising to 95 percent among four-year-olds, according to the Ministry of Education’s 2019 census of early childhood education services.

“Early learning centre businesses also enjoy the added security that comes with the government-funding of much of their income, through the provision of 20 hours of free childcare per week for the majority of children,” said Mr Florance.

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