Aptly named Woollen Mills, the 26 freehold units at 273 Neilson Street straddle the suburb of Penrose and the industrial portion of Onehunga, and are being built on the 2.8 hectare site which previously housed the Cavalier Bremworth Woollen Mills.
The original Onehunga Woollen Mills were established at the address – first referred to as Te Papapa - in 1886 to manufacture woollen cloth. The expansive manufacturing plant was one of 10 large-scale woollen mills operating throughout New Zealand.
Reflecting that primary produce manufacturing heritage dating back to the 1800s, the new precinct is named Woollen Mills. The flat site fronting Neilson Street with multiple street access points on Captain Springs Road and Angle Street will occupy one of the area’s most historic industrial land-use sites with six access points through monitored security gates.
Now, some 102 years later, a brand new building complex will be woven into the fabric of Penrose and Onehunga’s industrial property scene. Acknowledging the location’s heritage, the new Woollen Mills premises fronting Neilson Street will have angled saw-tooth roofing replicating the architectural style of the original buildings.
The new two-storey concrete and colour steel terraced office and warehouse units currently under construction at Woollen Mills range in size from 371 square metres to 1,021 square metres. Each unit comes with its own staff and customer allocated car parking area – ranging from five vehicle spaces for the smaller units up to 18 car parks for the bigger sites, as well as dedicated container set down areas for each until planned into the development.
The Woollen Mills site is being developed by Auckland property investment and development firm Triumph Capital which has undertaken such recent construction projects as the redevelopment of a chic 4,000 square metre office block at 22 Pollen Street in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby, and at 68 Sale Street in Auckland’s Victoria Quarter which delivered a stylish 2,150 square metre office venue with dual street frontages.
Triumph Capital developer Tim Wilson said the ethos behind Woollen Mills was to produce a quality product which the Auckland market had never seen before, while also showing respect to the location’s heritage aspects.
The 26 units with the Woollen Mills development are being marketed for sale through Bayleys Real Estate. Salespeople Scott Campbell, Sunil Bhana, James Hill and James Valintine said the freehold unit-titled warehouse and office workspaces were being marketed for sale ‘off plan’ on a ‘first come/first served’ basis.
“As the original Onehunga Woollen Mills were a pioneer in their time by setting up an industrial premises in this part of the city, so too now is the new Woollen Mills precinct - rejuvenating this quadrant by attracting what will be more than 20 new tenancies to the area through redevelopment of the existing underutilised land asset,” Mr Campbell said.
“Construction of Woollen Mills is already well advanced, with equity-funding meaning there is no requirement for any pre-sales levels to be achieved. Construction of the complex is forecast to be completed this time next year.
Mr Campbell said that with the Auckland residential property market trading through a relatively flat phase in terms of both capital growth and rental yields, Woollen Mills offered an entry-level investment opportunity for those wishing to take a stake in the city’s commercial and industrial property sector.
Mr Bhana said that with many of the recent developments in Auckland only available for lease, the Woollen Mills offering allowed owner occupiers and investors the opportunity to purchase a brand new building with a pre-defined specification, in the location.
“The more you look at these units, the more you see that everything about them has been thought of. They are fully functional industrial units designed to a standard set to raise the bar in terms of build specifications’,” Mr Bhana said.
Mr Hill said the smaller-sized units would be perfectly suited to purchase by either owner-occupiers or investors.
“The medium and larger-sized units could work for the likes of open-plan service operations supported by on-site design and build activities – such as custom-made kitchen or bathroom manufacturers, bespoke furniture traders, or warehousing and distribution of small goods,” Mr Hill said.
Woollen Mills is conveniently located between two major motorways – with State Highway One some two kilometres away to the east providing access to both the north and south of Auckland, and State Highway 20 just a kilometre away to the west delivering a connection to both the western reaches of the city and linking back into the CBD.
Mr Valintine said that all units within Woollen Mills were being sold with stylish open-plan office fit-outs on both levels. All units will have their own air conditioning, staff bathroom, shower, and kitchenette amenities.
“The warehouse units are being built in two parallel rows separated by a wide central access yard laneway with extra wide roller door access to the warehouses, with stud heights ranging from 6.5-metres to 9.8-metres,” he said.
“The two levels of office space have been designed with floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the commercial portion of each unit - allowing for maximum light flow and consequential energy efficiency with stud heights ranging between 2.6 and 3.0 metres on each office level.”
Mr Valintine predicted that with industrial property vacancy rates in Penrose hovering at around 0.96 percent, and little development of new premises coming on line in the foreseeable future, Woollen Mills’ 26 units would most likely be sold out in advance of their completion.
Mr Campbell said one of the units offered for sale was a heritage brick building which was part of the original plant from the last century.
“As the core of this particular building is already existing, it is anticipated that the foodservice or hospitality operation which signs up to serving from the venue will be up and running well ahead of all the surrounding tenancies moving in. The venue will undoubtedly go on to become the ‘local’ for the scores of employees within Woollen Mills who will be coming on site over the subsequent months,” he said.
The positioning of Woollen Mills close to the wharf anchorage at Onehunga reinforced the district’s early importance as Auckland's west coast port and a centre of heavy industry. Cloth from the mills was used to make uniforms worn by Kiwi soldiers in World War 1.
The Onehunga Woollen Mills’ importance to New Zealand’s domestic war efforts was highlighted in 1917 when the business applied to the Ministry of Defence to exempt employee William Freeman from conscripted military service. The mill argued that as the company’s only dyer engaged in an essential industry, Freeman could not be replaced – with any potential replacement taking up to five years to train.