Petone poised to take off as urban hub
An undercurrent of building work in Petone is starting to bear fruit, with two bulk retail sites about to open and more apartments completed or underway.
Kmart's new 5200 square metre-store on Hutt Rd is due to open in June on what was formerly the old Feltex factory site.
Meanwhile, a new 3500sqm Briscoes and Rebel Sports store is due to open within days in Nevis St, next to the new Bunnings
Printlink's site at 33 Jackson St was being considered for redevelopment but the owner of the land has put this on the backburner, extending Printlink's lease instead.
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Petone is also about become a hub for more apartment dwellers.
A 42-unit Quest Hotel was completed on the corner of Jackson and Richmond streets in October, while 42 apartments are nearly finished at what used to be the Fireman's Arms at 313-323 Jackson St.
Another apartment complex at 73 Jackson St or "RS Lane", is in the pipeline.
Briscoe Group's managing director Rod Duke said he had been keeping an eye on Petone for 20-odd years.
He said a decision to rezone for bulk retail in the area had been a game-changer.
"Prior to that plan, it was just impossible, long winded and extremely expensive in terms of legals and time to acquire enough land ... It was just painfully scarce, the available land that I could move to."
His new location on what was the old Colgate Palmolive factory will consolidate Lower Hutt's Briscoe and Rebel stores and the current Petone store into one place.
Duke bought the site for $8m three years ago off receivers. He said Briscoe may not hold the QV and Storage One buildings on the site long-term.
Developer Shayne Hodge also knows Petone well.
Having recently turned the old Te Puni mail centre into a bulk retail and Bunnings centre, his next project was tipped to be the Printlink site, which he bought from Foodstuffs.
The site could add another 10,000 to 12,000sqm of bulk retail, but for the moment he has decided to renew the tenant's lease.
Hodge said Petone was only going to improve with good rail links and the proposed roading interchange through to Grenada.
"I think you'll find over time the area will change from what it is to more intensive bulk retail and potential residential as well... It's going to be quite a hive of activity."
Kevin Melville, who has developed several Petone apartment clusters, said he had always found Petone a good place to lease.
"We've done a lot of apartments in Jackson St. They've always been good for us.
"Your rents are almost as good as Wellington. Anywhere else in the Hutt you take a bit of a hiding on rent but then you buy your land a lot cheaper."
His new project, the Fireman's Arms, is due to open next week but like Hodge, he prefers to keep his properties.
"We'd rather be an investor than a developer, to be fair."
The bulk retail in Petone was interesting to watch. "I'd have preferred it to go to Lower Hutt because Jackson St was busy enough and there's space in the centre of the Hutt for that sort of thing, but hey."
Paul Cudby, of Bayleys Petone, said Petone continued to go from strength to strength, with a surge in industrial leasing in the last two months and rents reaching new benchmarks..
Residential activity had also been strong and the Bob Scott Retirement Village being built would bring a lot more shoppers to the area.
The growth in apartments would be great for local retailers and restaurants.
"There's no question that it's changing the pace in Petone but it's also adding to the diversity.
"It's a very exciting time to be in property in pretty much any aspect of that location."