Willis Bond & Co's multimillion-dollar Kumutoto building said to sell for $90m
An undeveloped office block on Wellington's waterfront is believed to have sold to a Palmerston North supermarket owner for close to $90 million.
Just two months after getting the green light from the Environment Court, a private investor snapped up the Willis Bond & Co project for $89.2m.
Real estate firm JLL has confirmed the North Kumutoto Precinct development changed hands in December.
The sale is said to be the largest transaction in the capital's commercial property market in the second half of 2015.
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Willis Bond & Co has refused to comment.
A JLL spokeswoman said she understood the property was subject to a "forward contract" and had been sold to the same buyer of 125 The Terrace.
Arthur Investment Group bought the Precinct Properties' office block in August for $65m.
Peter Arthur - the sole director of the group - owns Pak n' Save Palmerston North.
His family used to own a number of New World supermarkets throughout the country.
On Thursday evening, Peter Arthur's son Brad Arthur denied his father had bought the building.
"We haven't got a chicken farm full of golden eggs."
The Kumutoto Precinct development will include a five-storey commercial building on Waterloo Quay with a walkway through to the water on the other side.
PricewaterhouseCoopers will relocate its Wellington office into the new building, and has the naming rights with the building to be known as the PwC Centre.
Rural insurer FMG and The Co-operative Bank have leased space in the building, which is due to be completed in 2018.
Part of the ground floor will be used for retail, cafe, and exhibition spaces.
The building will be built to 180 percent of the earthquake code.
Willis Bond would pay its 125 year lease to Wellington City Council to use the land up front.
At the end of 125 years the building and land would become owned by the council.
Until then, the council would own the land and Willis Bond the building.
Council spokesman Clayton Anderson said there had been no name change on the lease.
Willis Bond and its sister company, LT McGuinness, have completed a number of projects in Wellington, including Clyde Quay Wharf, Chews Lane, NZX Centre and Transpower House.
Arthur's entry into the grocery business began when he worked as a schoolboy at the Ngaere Store, in Taranaki, which his parents owned. He was the fourth generation of the family in that store.
"In 1977 I left school and we bought the old Stratford New World from John Hedditch," Arthur told the Taranaki Daily News in 2007.
"In 1986 we bought the old Hawera New World and two years later built a new store on the same site. In 1991-92 my father and myself rebuilt the Stratford New World. In 1998 the Kovaleskis bought Hawera New World and I bought the Palmerston North Pak 'n Save, which I still own.
"In 2000 my brother John bought my interest in Stratford New World and later became the sole owner when our father died."