Mayor welcomes sale as exciting for retail

HANK SCHOUTEN
PROPERTY REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 15/09/2012
Upper Hutt mall
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX NZ

New owner: The Mall in Upper Hutt has been snapped up by businessman Andrew Budge.

Maidstone Mall
Original: As it was then – the Maidstone Mall’s entrance in Main St in 1994.

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The sale of Upper Hutt's biggest shopping centre to Auckland businessman Andrew Budge has been welcomed by Mayor Wayne Guppy.

Mr Budge's purchase of The Mall, which was put up for mortgagee sale, went unconditional yesterday.

The sale price has not been disclosed but sources in Upper Hutt say he paid $18 million - less than a third of the estimated $60 million sunk into it by investors and their financiers.

Mr Budge, a retail property investor who also owns the Bush Inn shopping centre in Christchurch, was unavailable for comment.

However, Mr Guppy said he was pleased Mr Budge had further plans for The Mall and other retail space on Main St which sold with it.

"It's [an] exciting time for retailing in Upper Hutt with the new owner and the plans he has."

The Mall's fortunes were hit by the global financial crisis. Its last major redevelopment was completed just before the start of the crisis which caused major problems for the finance and retail sectors, Mr Guppy said.

Experience Upper Hutt director and city councillor Hellen Swales was also pleased to see a sale had been clinched.

"We're looking forward to a new person in the retail mix. Fresh blood and fresh ideas can only be a positive for the city."

She said The Mall had a hard time in competition with Queensgate in Lower Hutt, where Westfield did not allow tenants to have shops in a rival mall in the same area.

Council chief executive Chris Upton said things were looking up for the city. A year ago there were 27 vacant retail and commercial premises in the heart of town and now there were just 11.

The Mall, owned and operated by Australian-based Pelorus Property in partnership with Upper Hutt businessmen Colin and Michael Gibbs, was put up for mortgagee sale in July.

Their company, Trentham City Investments, went into receivership in March.

The property was sold on the instructions of New Zealand Property Finance Partners which held a $24.2m first mortgage. It will not get all its money back.

The failed South Canterbury Finance stands to lose all the $26.6m it advanced as a second mortgage.

The sale was brokered by Colliers International agents Richard Findlay, Chris Gollins and Bill Leckie.

The property has more than 2.5 hectares of land, more than 300 car parks, and other commercial buildings in Main St leased to Smiths City, Pets Centre, Ascot Cinema and the Defence Force.

The Warehouse and Farmers are the two largest tenants in the two-level 17,000 square metre mall, which has 40 smaller shops. Other tenants include Postie Plus, Michael Hill, ASB and Hallensteins.

The shopping centre has traded under four different names since its original owners AMP opened it as the Maidstone Mall. It was later renamed Logan Plaza and traded briefly as Trentham City Mall before becoming The Mall.

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THE MALL'S FORTUNES

1970s: Built and developed for AMP when it was named Maidstone Mall.

1995: Bought by local developer Lance Cottam who renamed it Logan Plaza.

2006: Former Hazelwoods department store owner Colin Gibbs takes part ownership and reportedly invests $27m into a $60m redevelopment. Cottam puts in $6m and South Canterbury Finance provides $27m.

Rebranded Trentham City Mall but struggles to fill new shop space in the face of competition for tenants and shoppers drawn to the much bigger redevelopment of Westfield's Queensgate mall in Lower Hutt.

2007: Australian-based Pelorus Property, which has a history of buying distressed properties, takes a stake in Trentham City Investments, which buys the mall for $45m. Cogal, Colin and Michael Gibbs hold 50 per cent of shares in the company, Pelorus takes 40 per cent and two other Australians hold 5 per cent each. New Australian manager rebrands it The Mall.

2012: Trentham City Investments is put into receivership and its property is sold.

Contact Hank Schouten
Property reporter
Email: hank.schouten@dompost.co.nz

- The Dominion Post

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