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Mid-century apartment conversion opportunity in inner city

The pending retirement by the owner of one of Wellington’s few remaining central city automotive repair and service businesses is sparking interest among developers and owner-occupiers who have been eying up the possibilities that the business’s 1960s’ era building, and location, offers.

Ray Hartley Motors Limited has been in business for more than 30 years with a loyal client base spanning several generations and has operated out of the Haining Street premises for 26 years.

In acknowledging that the property Is listed on MBIE’s register of earthquake prone buildings, with a July 2027 deadline to strengthen to at least one-third NBS to satisfy thresholds or demolish, vendor Ray Hartley has no interest in undertaking this work himself at this stage in his working life.

According to agents, an engineer’s initial opinion has indicated that bracing, or halving column heights by installing a new floor, could address the main strengthening issues.

Andrew Smith and Mark Walker of Bayleys Wellington are marketing the freehold land and buildings – which will be leased back by the vendor until early next year by agreement with a new owner – via tender closing Wednesday, 16th September.

The property’s capital value is $1,330,000, which is largely attributed to the underlying land value. The vendor lease back over the property has an annualised net rental of $72,000, which is well below market levels but allows some holding income for a purchaser.

Smith said the modest 310sqm site was originally part of a larger property that extended along Haining Street and backed onto neighbouring Frederick Street, before being subdivided in 1993.

Given the flexible Central Area zoning which would allow new construction to a current height level of 27 metres, developer bells will be ringing – particularly in light of the multi-level, more intensive residential living or mixed-use development potential.

“We can’t rule out the property’s appeal for a developer who would look to knock the existing building over and start from scratch,” said Smith.

“But the building’s interesting façade and quite cool architectural features will draw in architects and owner-occupiers who see inherent potential for an out-of-the-box apartment conversion – the likes of which have been popular in nearby Jessie and Frederick Streets, and Martin Square.”

“The unpretentious 414sqm building was constructed in 1964 and boasts desirable mid-century design features that are highly sought-after.

“While configured in a very practical and functional way for the existing business, it’s plain to see that the bones of the building would lend themselves to an empathetic remodel to incorporate a generous apartment on the upper level with garaging and perhaps a studio, on the ground floor.”

Construction-wise, the property has reinforced concrete columns and beams with brick infill panels, while steel portal frames support a timber framed and sarked partial saw-tooth roof with some Georgian glass feature panels in the roofline.

Smith said there’s evidence within the central Wellington market of keen interest from empty nesters for inner city apartments with storage, studio space and garaging.

“That’s something that very few new-builds in the CBD can offer, so a property like this with the basics in place for a conversion will be very appealing.

“When people downsize from the family home, they still need somewhere to store their ‘toys’, or at the very least, their vehicles, and it seems counter-intuitive to move into a new apartment but then have to find secure storage off-site for these things.”

Haining Street runs off the southern end of Tory Street and carries through to Tarankai Street in the west.

It is close to main arterials being around 150 metres from Karo Drive, State Highway 1 and the access point to the motorway system in one direction, and 50 metres to the south-moving portion of the motorway.

Te Aro has been identified as one of the major growth areas in the new Wellington City draft spatial plan.

Property address: 18 Haining Street, Te Aro, Wellington

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