Car dealers buy big chunk of city land

00:04, Mar 05 2014
Chch city block for sale
DRIVING DEMAND: This 3.3ha block in central Christchurch has been divided for sale.

A $12m sale is the first transaction on an entire city block put up for sale, as LIZ McDONALD reports.

A central Christchurch block of land with an estimated value of about $35 million is being sold in pieces.

The site, an entire city block bordered by Moorhouse Ave and Durham, Montreal and Wilmer streets, was put up for sale in September by its Otago owner, Terrence Stirling.

The property covers 3.3 hectares, roughly the size of five rugby fields. It was offered for sale last year either as one lot or as three smaller properties.

The western part of the site has now been bought by Oakwood Properties for over $12.2m. Its parent company the Oakwood Group owns motor vehicle dealerships including Blackwell Motors, and also has extensive land holdings in both Christchurch and Dunedin.

Its new corner site faces Moorhouse Ave and Montreal and Wilmer streets.


Real estate sales agent Nick Doig, of Colliers, says they are negotiating with another vehicle dealership for south-east part of the site facing Moorhouse Ave and Durham St. The north-east corner is still available.

Doig says both dealerships want to run their businesses from the block.

Existing businesses on the site, mostly car sales and other vehicle businesses, are on short-term leases with quick- exit demolition clauses.

Several vehicle dealerships have been looking for new sites after being given marching orders from blueprint anchor project sites, especially between St Asaph and Tuam streets.

Until the earthquakes Blackwell Holden had premises on land now earmarked for the planned sports stadium.

Doig said there had been a good level of inquiry about the land.

"We would like to have all three parts sold by now, but we're happy with the current level of interest. You'd struggle to find anything else with that level of profile, and they are pretty big chunks of land."

Stirling, a South Otago-based investor, had acquired the land gradually over decades with development plans. He later abandoned his prolonged $100,000 battle to develop it as a shopping centre after failing to get resource consent.

After the earthquakes the site's zoning was switched from industrial to mixed use, allowing the big-box retailing Stirling had been fighting for.

But with land prices high he decided instead to put the land up for sale.

It was one of the biggest central city properties to come onto the market for many years.

Other recent land buyers in and around Moorhouse Ave include Bruce Miles, whose Miles Toyota and Cockram Motors businesses are on designated land, and property developer Richard Peebles.

Land in the area is now selling for $1000 to $1200 a square metre, a jump up from three years ago when the earthquakes hit.

The Press