Local company planning multiple retail outlet for Broadway Ave site. Chris Hyde reports.
Former members of the Palmerston North Returned and Services Association looked on with sadness as their once-thriving headquarters in the city were auctioned off to a development company.
Palmerston North company Vining Group, represented by former Golf City owner Warren Vining, bought the 200 Broadway Ave property for $1 million at a mortgagee auction onsite yesterday.
The auction was the final attempt by liquidator David Ruscoe of Grant Thornton's to recoup the $2.15 million owed to creditors when the RSA went into receivership in December.
Mr Ruscoe could not be reached for comment.
Mr Vining told the Manawatu Standard his company had bought the 2100sq m building to turn it into a "multiple retail outlet".
Their plans included a warehouse on the site, but there were no specific stores or deadlines set for the development as yet, Mr Vining said.
A crowd of about 40 former Palmerston North RSA members, outnumbering potential investors, watched on as Colliers International auctioneer John Bowring took an opening bid of $500,000 from a phone bidder. Bidding between the phone bidder and another man stopped at $900,000 before Vining Group offered the eventually accepted price of $1m.
Among the former members was Don Robertson, who is in the process of creating an incorporated society - a so-called "Friends of the Palmerston North RSA" - to keep members from going their separate ways.
"Although it's sad to see it go like this, at the end of it all, this is just a building.
"My thrust all along has been to not focus on what we have lost, and instead focus on what we can do to keep the membership together."
A group of former members had been meeting on the first Saturday of every month to focus on creating the society, Mr Robertson said.
"I'm prepared to drive it and we'll call a public meeting about it, probably in February.
"When you look at Anzac Day and the way children and families and veterans come out for it, that is the heart of everything and we don't want to lose that in Palmerston North."
An agreement had already been reached with the Palmerston North Cosmopolitan Club to again host an Anzac Day function in 2014, Mr Robertson said. They hoped to remain closely aligned to the RSA at a national level but it was "very optimistic to think we will have a new building any time in the near future", Mr Robertson said.
Colliers International Palmerston North agent Grant Lloyd said the sale of the building, previously valued by the Palmerston North City Council at $3.275m, had gone well in the circumstances.
"The owners are enthusiastic local guys who have a use for it. They're not just a big national company looking for a bargain who will leave the building lying dormant.
"It's never a nice situation to be in to sell the building in this way but at least there is that result out of it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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