Rattled firms seek new places to set up

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 30/07/2013

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Wellington businesses have been scrambling to find new premises in the wake of the July 21 earthquake.

And it is not just those who have had to move out of damaged buildings like the heritage-listed Old Public Trust Building on Lambton Quay, the BNZ at CentrePort or BP on Waterloo Quay.

Colliers International leasing specialist Steve Maitland said he had fielded up to 20 quake-related inquiries from businesses looking for new premises.

"It's coming from two directions. There are organisations in buildings that seem to have structural damage who need new accommodation.

"Secondly, there are a whole host of organisations who are doing contingency planning because they are uncertain of the status of their present building and uncertain about whether they want to stay in the CBD."

One business, with about 70 staff, had asked for options ranging from low-level fringe buildings to premises in the Hutt Valley and as far north as Kapiti, Maitland said.

"They were in a good quality modern office tower which did not sustain any damage."

But staff had been talking about the issue for a while and the earthquake prompted the business to take action.

People were worried by what happened in Christchurch, which had been hit by two large quakes.

Maitland said the Christchurch earthquakes had also heightened awareness of threats to business continuity.

"You might have the world's best building but the building next door might fall down on you or keep teetering and you won't be allowed in because it's a red zone.

"Your building might be fully operational but you won't have access."

While the latest quakes might have prompted some kneejerk responses, Maitland was certain it would prompt some relocations.

Jones Lang LaSalle agent Steven Rodgers said last week started with a frenzy of calls from businesses, many of them making inquiries in case they were barred from getting back into their premises.

He said he was able to find alternative premises within 24 hours for BP after the stairway landings in its Waterloo Quay building were damaged.

It needed to find new offices for about 100 staff and had leased 1200 square metres on one floor in the former Colonial Mutual building at 22 Willeston St.

BNZ was also looking at options to rehouse its staff while repairs were done to its near- new office block on the waterfront.

The interior of the CentrePort building was extensively damaged by collapsed ceilings and broken pipes and it could be months before BNZ staff can get back in.

BNZ required any accommodation to have a seismic rating of at least two-thirds of new building standards.

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Rodgers said a fair bit of suitable vacant space was available around the city.

He was also pleased to see landlords were being well-behaved and not attempting to charge exorbitant rents.

- Fairfax Media

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