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Car dealer forced out

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014
Brent Robertson of Brent's Toyotas is being forced off his site after 28 years of trading.
Fairfax NZ

EVERYTHING MUST GO: Brent Robertson of Brent's Toyotas is being forced off his site after 28 years of trading.

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The closure of Brents Toyotas, after 28 years of car sales, is being forced under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's land acquisition plans.

A planned Metro Sports Facility project, jointly funded by Christchurch City Council and the Government, has got in the way of the Toyota sales yard, which is to cease trading on March 31.

Owner Brent Robertson, who started selling cars aged 17 and is now nearly 50, is exiting the sales business.

However, he will retain related operations including some motor financing franchises and vehicle servicing outlets as well as a property investment.

Robertson said he had mixed feelings about finishing a successful business during a buoyant time for vehicle sales.

"I think its time for me to move on. I have been around for a [look at potential] sites, but at the moment to sort of replace this with another high profile site in Christchurch is quite difficult, it's expensive and it's expensive to put up a building."

Robertson's move away from an area surrounded by Moorhouse Ave, Antigua St, and Stewart St is mirrored by other businesses nearby.

Signs indicate that companies have relocated, and there are many demolished lots.

Construction of the Metro Sports Facility is due to start in the second half of the year.

Robertson said he was still in talks with the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

Another business owner said he was hopeful of an OK outcome from that process, while a third said he had been told by Cera not to talk to the media.

A Cera spokeswoman said the authority planned to purchase 32 properties on land designated for the sports facility. There were originally about 47 businesses on the land.

Under a cost sharing agreement, the Government will contribute $70m to the anchor project, particularly for the land, with Christchurch City Council to put $147m for the development.

The Cera spokeswoman said that of the 32 properties, 24 have a signed agreement to sell or have settled a sale of their land and that accounted for 88 per cent of the land area for the facility. Four properties had yet to start negotiations and four had negotiations under way.

Robertson said he moved the business to the 101 Moorhouse Ave site in 1989, having established it on Antigua St in 1986.

He planned to continue two Motor Trade Finances franchises businesses he part owned with the franchise operator. He would also continue to run two car servicing outlets.

Barry Hopping, director of Montreux Furniture on Antigua St, said his furniture upholstery business would relocate to the Amuri business park on Barbadoes St. About 13 staff would make the move of a business that dated back 30 years and supplied furniture retailers.

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