Farmers building bought by developers

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 13:37 20/12/2013

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The Farmers department store building in Cuba Mall has been bought by Willis Bond property development company.

Willis Bond managing director Mark McGuinness said the company wanted to redevelop the property although this was subject to negotiations with Farmers who held a long term lease on the quake-risk building.

It is understood that Farmers have six years to run on the lease and a further right of renewal.

Willis Bond also own the adjoining old Deka store on the corner of Cuba and Dixon streets.

Both properties were put up for sale by receiver David Ruscoe of Grant Thornton following the collapse of Terry Serepisos's Wellington property empire two years ago.

The sale went unconditional after Farmers waived its right to buy the 1914-vintage heritage-listed building.

Farmers closed the store after the magnitude 6.2 earthquake on August 16 and reopened it nearly six weeks later after engineers assessed it as being fit to occupy.

It is understood Willis Bond paid $13 million for the Farmers building and another $10m for the Deka property.

The combined price of  $23m for the two properties is well shy of the $59m borrowed on them by Mr Serepisos’ Century City Holdings.

Mortgages were advanced by the Bank of Scotland and South Canterbury Finance.

Serepisos, who was bankrupted in September 2011 with debts of around $200m, had planned a $60 million 14-storey retail, office and residential redevelopment of the two properties which together stand on almost one hectare of land.

Willis Bond were already planning a redevelopment of the 4000 square metre Deka property which has frontages on Cuba Mall, Dixon and Victoria streets.

The site is understood to have been shortlisted for a proposed new combined central Wellington campus for WelTec and Whitireia polytechnics.

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- The Dominion Post

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