Contact takes over most of Wellington tower

Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012

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Months after tenants of a quirky Wellington office building were warned of eviction, Contact Energy has confirmed rumours it is taking over most of the Harbour City Tower.

In July, The Dominion Post revealed that dozens of small businesses, charities and individuals had been told they faced eviction from the self-service apartments in Lambton Quay, in a building owned by retailer Kirkcaldie & Stains. It came after real estate agents circulated pamphlets telling the businesses, almost all of which have been on month-by-month leases, that they would be needing new space.

At the time the rumours pointed at Contact Energy, already an anchor tenant, and the electricity giant has now confirmed it was taking over another two floors.

The expansion comes with a nine-year lease extension, which will require the approval of the Overseas Investment Office, because the company is majority-owned by Origin of Australia.

Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes said the change demonstrated the company's commitment to Wellington.

It would bring about 250 staff from its retail team, currently in a building in Willis St, into the former DIC department store, reducing its rental costs and improving its customer offerings, he said.

The news also confirmed that the move would strip much of the character of the building.

Barnes said the move would include "interior work to integrate the new leased areas with our existing floor space and to create a more productive and social environment".

In a statement, Kirkcaldie & Stains said the refurbishment would cost its property subsidiary $6 million, with work to start next month. It is expected to be completed in May 2013.

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