The land and buildings which are the base for Hawke’s Bay’s biggest private medical and healthcare centre have been placed on the market for sale or lease – with the potential of converting the premises into a new boutique hotel.
The high-profile two-storey building on the corner of Queen Street East and Russell Street North in Hastings has housed Hastings Health Centre for 15 years.
Hastings Health Centre is currently on a lease running through to next year with a further six-month right of renewal, generating new rental of $540,000 plus GST per annum. When it opened in 2002, Hastings Health Centre was one of New Zealand’s first integrated family health centres.
With a medical staff of some 50 doctors, supported by a full complement of nurses and administrative personnel, Hasting Health Centre’s operations are scheduled to move into new $20 million purpose-built premises on the corner of St Aubyn and King streets next year on what was the former Bunnings site.
Now the 2,703 square metre art deco style building sitting on some 2,502 square metres of freehold land at 101 Queen Street East is being marketed for sale by negotiation or lease through Bayleys Havelock North. Salespeople Rollo Vavasour and Paul Garland said the property was one of the biggest commercial sites in Central Hastings to come onto the market for sale or lease in the past decade, and featured 44 car parks.
Mr Vavasour said that initial interest in the site from property developers had identified three potential future uses. Depending on buyer dynamics and terms, the property’s owners would also look at a refurbishment and leasing arrangement with potential new tenants.
“All three options have acknowledged the office-style internal lay-out of the property, along with its various ‘zones’, as being cornerstone to what could be done at the site,” Mr Vavasour said.
“Topping the list is the prospect for reformatting the interior into a boutique four-star-rated hotel accommodation.
“As part of the structural development to specifically accommodate Hastings Health Centre, a substantial amount of plumbing and electrical wiring was installed throughout the property to sustain the multitude of various consultation rooms, patient support amenities and staff facilities.
“As a result, the interior, subject to council consenting could sustain the creation of an intimate lodge-style four-star hotel. The ample availability of guest car parking immediately outside the front portico would underpin this option. Under this format, the ground floor space which is currently utilised as consultation rooms could be upgraded into an on-site restaurant and bar, while the adjoining pharmacy floor plate would serve as a conference and function venue.
“While much of the focus on Hawke’s Bay’s growing tourism sector has focused on increasing the hotel inventory in Napier, little has been put forward for doing likewise in Hastings as an alternative, so the potential for establishing a branded hotel presence in the city is a veritable blank canvas.
“The location, size, and structure of the Hastings Health Centre premises are all high on a list of ‘wants’ that hotel operators look for when identifying sites, so we are certainly prepared for that possibility to come up.”
Mr Garland said the second most likely option for the Queen Street East site was converting the interior into a modern serviced office complex.
“Under this proposal, the consultation suites and nursing treatment rooms on all levels could be renovated into individually-let offices, the reception desks would remain as is, and the existing administrative rooms could be reformatted into meeting spaces,” he said.
“The existing ground floor pharmacy space could also be transformed into a larger stand-alone commercial unit to maximise returns on the floor plate and offer an alternative bigger workspace environment to the smaller single office units.”
Reformatting the building into short-term accommodation for workers in Hawke’s Bay’s agricultural sector – both the vineyards and the apple orchards - was the third alternative which had been mooted for the prominent Queen Street East site.
“Architects have indicated the existing Hastings Health Centre consultation suites could be easily converted into single bedrooms and even dormitories, while the multitude of reception areas could be opened up into communal lounges.
“Meanwhile, the retail pharmacy floor space could be reconfigured to add kitchen or dining room space, while the numerous administrative areas and storage rooms could be converted into shower units.
“Hawke’s Bay’s agricultural labour market shortage is virtually year-round now – with plantation maintenance in autumn and winter, and harvesting in summer.”
In May this year, Immigration New Zealand declared a labour shortage in Hawke’s Bay, and eased the visa waiver conditions for seasonal workers in the region’s horticulture and viticulture sectors. Mr Vavasour said part of that labour shortage had been caused by the lack of suitable accommodation for workers in the province.
Mr Vavasour said that following comprehensive structural strengthening and refurbishment works undertaken in the early 2000s, the various wings and floors within the building had New Build Standards ratings of between 55 and 100 percent.
“Any refurbishment of the interior floorplate to sustain any of the future use options for the premises could of course be undertaken simultaneously with strengthening works to minimise down-time for the property,” he said.
“All of the redevelopment options alluded to are wholly-compatible with the visions espoused in Hastings District Council’s recently released Draft Long Term Plan 2018 – 2028.
“In particular, a new tenancy profile for the site would underpin the council’s ambitions for “making Hastings an attractive place to invest and do business with” and “working with others to address skill and labour market needs”,” he said.