Number of For Lease signs grows in New Plymouth CBD

A number of shops and buildings around New Plymouth's Currie St are for sale or for lease.
David Burroughs/Fairfax NZ

A number of shops and buildings around New Plymouth's Currie St are for sale or for lease.

For Lease signs are replacing window displays  in New Plymouth's Central Business District -  a trend that shows no sign of slowing until spring, a real estate agent says.

Up to 40 retail and office spaces are up for lease in the Central Business District (CBD), with the problem especially visible around the intersection of Devon St and Currie St.

There are currently two retail shops, including the former CC Ward shop, and two office spaces vacant on Currie St, with another five retail shops in the surrounding area sitting empty.

Two prominent buildings are also for sale on Currie St - the Taranaki Daily News site and the building that currently houses Quest Apartments, Kathmandu, NZ Post and ANZ Bank.

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Harcourts New Plymouth commercial manager Bruce Woodhead had seen a steady trend of business space coming up for lease in the CBD and said it wasn't likely to change until September.

"It's pretty slow right now and has been since early this year," he said.

"And with winter coming we won't see a lot of change until spring."

He said there are currently about 40 spaces up for lease in the CBD, with between six and eight on each block.

McDonald Real Estate agent Kevin Hight said they were pushing for more businesses from outside the region to move into the CBD to fill the empty shops.

"There's a couple that I've sent information packs out about the city and about the district. We're just trying to attract those people into the city," he said.

Smaller sites were easier to lease than bigger ones, Hight said.

"Good quality sites might take a few months, but good quality smaller ones seem to get picked up, but it's not an easy process," he said.

"That's the nature of the beast at the moment, but it's a tough ask to fill them all up. It is a rough retail time, there's no secret about that."

The Currie St area is in line for a revamp, with property developer Jeremy Thompson planning to re-do the current ASB building.

The building currently houses the ASB Bank and the Laughing Budda restaurant. 

A month ago Venture Taranaki reported spending in New Plymouth's CBD had dropped by 1.6 per cent in the second half of last year, as shoppers looked further afield.

Chief executive Stuart Trundle said while there was a downturn in discretionary spending, it wasn't the only factor in shops emptying.

He said the leases could have come up for review, and both the landlords and retailers could have decided to go for a change.

The earthquake rating of a building could also factor into a businesses decision to move, as they became increasingly responsible for their staff and customers' safety, Trundle said.

Taranaki Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Williams said the chamber, the Business and Retail Association (BARA) and the council were working on a "Shaping Our City" plan.

He said the Chamber set up BARA to look at ways to keep the CBD vibrant.

Shops coming and going wasn't necessarily a bad thing. 

"The CBD needs to be a changing environment," he said.

 - Stuff

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