Archive | Westgate

Gunton looks to backdoor-list Retail Property Group through Bethunes

NZ Retail Property Group Ltd owner Mark Gunton announced plans yesterday to backdoor-list the development company through NZX-listed shell Bethunes Investments Ltd.

Bethunes (previously the philatelic business Mowbray Collectables Ltd) said it had signed a non-binding conditional term sheet with NZRPG and its controlling shareholder, Westgate Power Centre Ltd.

NZRPG developed the original Westgate business centre at the top of the North-western Motorway and is developing the second, much larger stage beside the motorway extension, which includes warehousing & industrial uses as well as a new mall & business centre (pictured above).

Mark Gunton.

Mr Gunton’s company also owns 2 North Shore malls where it’s adding residential capacity, at Milford & Birkenhead.

Bethunes summarised the listing transaction thus:

  • Bethunes would transfer all its assets (except for $100,000 in a series of bonds and some cash) into a wholly owned subsidiary, BIL 2016 Ltd (New BIL)
  • New BIL’s shares will then be distributed pro rata to all of Bethunes’ existing shareholders
  • New BIL will assume the name Bethunes Investments Ltd
  • The business of NZRPG will then be reverse-listed into the resulting shell of Bethunes through Bethunes issuing shares to Westgate in exchange for all of the shares in NZRPG
  • Bethunes will then assume the name NZ Retail Property Group Ltd
  • For Bethunes shareholders, the effect if the transaction is completed is that they will retain their current Bethunes shares, which become an interest in NZRPG, but will also, for no consideration, receive shares in New BIL, which will be an interest in the same assets & business plan that BIL presently has.

Valuations

The initial indicative & non-binding estimates for the transaction are:

  • The shares in NZRPG are estimated at about $400 million
  • The shares in Bethunes (less the assets & receivable held in BIL 2016 Ltd) on a debt-free basis are valued at $1 million plus the NZX bond of $75,000 & $25,000 cash
  • Based on these valuations, Westgate will hold about 99% of the share capital in Bethunes. These values are subject to final determination & agreement and may vary.

Conditions

The transactions contemplated by the term sheet are conditional on:

  • Bethunes conducting a due diligence investigation of NZRPG
  • Westgate conducting a due diligence investigation of Bethunes
  • Entry into legally binding transaction documents between Bethunes & Westgate
  • Obtaining any necessary waivers from NZX required to proceed with the transaction
  • Bethunes obtaining all shareholder approvals that may be required to undertake the transactions, including under the Companies Act, the Takeovers Code & the NZX listing rules.

Bethunes shareholders must approve deal. They’ll get an independent report and an appraisal report, and Bethunes intends to call a shareholder meeting by 30 June, with the intention of completing the transactions shortly after approvals are obtained.

Bethunes chair Chris Swasbrook  said the Bethunes board was investigating either re-listing New BIL following the transactions or placing New BIL on an alternative share trading platform to retain some liquidity in New BIL. A decision on this will be made before shareholders are asked to vote on the NZRPG transaction.

NZRPG’s business

NZRPG is a retail property developer, owner & manager. It has over 100,000m² of leasable space in its portfolio.

Its intention in listing is to grow its investment portfolio through the strategic development of existing retail centres into planned town environments, and the development of mixed use assets that derive the highest value/m².

The company said: “Historically income generated from property assets has, to a large part, been utilised to fund the ongoing development, planning & design processes necessary to ensure the long-term opportunity for these town centres. As a result, NZRPG is now uniquely positioned with a significant & long-term development pipeline, which will provide long-term income & value growth.

“NZRPG is seeking capital to realise these plans, and a reverse listing is intended to support securing new capital. NZRPG is presenting to investors the opportunity to take part in one of the most significant retail property development pipelines in New Zealand. The company is seeking capital to embark on the next phase of its pipeline, which includes one of New Zealand’s biggest mixed use property development opportunities – Westgate town centre.

“In addition to the ongoing completion of the 48.5ha Westgate town centre, both the Milford centre & Highbury centre are undergoing retail development with a residential overlay. The success of these developments is underpinned by the expansive urban town planning that is reshaping Auckland.

“These growth opportunities include the provision of residential overlays to all the town centre properties (Milford, Highbury & Westgate) which will both enhance the retail performance of the centres and allow for significant tranches of capital to be recycled into the core business. The Milford development plan is underway, with completion due in mid-2019.”

Swasbrook’s top table links

Bethunes chair Chris Swasbrook is managing director & founding shareholder of the manager of Elevation Capital Ltd. Precinct Properties NZ Ltd chair Craig Stobo chairs Elevation’s manager and is a shareholder, and corporate legal advisor Andrew Harmos is a non-executive director & shareholder.

Mr Swasbrook was previously a partner of Goldman Sachs JBWere Pty Ltd and co-head of institutional equities at Goldman Sachs JBWere (NZ) Ltd.

Mr Stobo has worked as a diplomat for the New Zealand & Australian governments, as an economist, investment banker and as chief executive & executive vice-president of BT Funds Management NZ Ltd.

Mr Harmos is a founding partner of specialist corporate legal advisory firm Harmos Horton Lusk Ltd, formed in 2002 after his 16 years as a partner of Russell McVeagh. He’s also a director of ASX-listed Scentre Group Ltd.

Links:
NZ Retail Property Group
Elevation Capital
Bethunes

Earlier stories:
15 February 2017: Auditor-general argues for more Westgate deal disclosure but doesn’t see wrongdoing
25 May 2016: Milford shopping centre expansion approved
22 February 2013: Gunton gutted by Milford decision but will fight on
1 February 2010: Retail Property Group puts 48 units up for sale
18 November 2009: Opposition pushes Massey North start out 8 years from conception
19 December 2008: Expanded Westgate a new Newmarket?
Attribution: Company release.

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Auditor-general argues for more Westgate deal disclosure but doesn’t see wrongdoing

Auditor-general Lyn Provost told Parliament yesterday, in a report tabled on dealings between the Waitakere City and Auckland Councils and Westgate landowner NZ Retail Property Group Ltd (NZRPG), that both councils could have made better disclosure. But she did not disclose any wrongdoing in the financial arrangements.

Image above: The Westgate layout looking down the North-western Motorway toward Henderson, as it was in 2013.

The Auditor-general’s office looked into specific aspects of Auckland Council’s project to develop a new town centre in Massey North (the council name for what NZRPG always called Westgate) after several people raised concerns about the establishment & management of this new town centre. They questioned whether the public & private costs & benefits of the project had been appropriately balanced between Auckland Council & a private developer.

Auditor-general Lyn Provost.

Mrs Provost said the focus of the office’s inquiry was on Auckland Council’s management & governance of the project from 1 November 2010, when the newly amalgamated council inherited the project from the now dissolved Waitakere City Council.

“One of the concerns raised with us was about the lack of transparency, in particular being unable to access information about the project. In our view, Auckland Council could have made more information about this development available. It is important that local authorities strike the right balance between balancing commercial sensitivity, maintaining legal privilege as appropriate and being open with ratepayers & elected officials. Such openness allows public discussion & debate, and is essential to supporting public sector accountability. This exercise has highlighted once again the importance not just of making good decisions but also of being able to show that good decisions have been made.”

The background

A block in the first Westgate stage, pictured in 2012.

Companies in the NZRPG group owned or controlled much of the land where the new town centre was to be located. As a result, Waitakere City Council entered into a memorandum of understanding with NZRPG in 2004 to establish a collaborative working relationship to design & develop the town centre. In 2010, the council & NZRPG entered into a suite of contractual arrangements for the actual development of the new town centre and the sharing of the costs between them.

“While the focus of my inquiry was on Auckland Council’s management & governance of this project from 2010 onwards, concerns were also raised about Waitakere City Council’s decision to pay the developer $6 million for a street in the existing Westgate shopping centre. Concerns had been raised about this purchase because, usually in a new development, a developer will bear the cost of constructing roads – which then vest in the council at no cost when land is subdivided.

“Accordingly, in order to provide sufficient context, my report sets out additional background detail about the decision-making process undertaken by Waitakere City Council in relation to the purchase, and the basis on which the purchase price was agreed.

“Concerns were also raised with my office about the contractual arrangements between Waitakere City Council (and, subsequently, Auckland Council), Transpower & NZRPG to relocate transmission lines passing over the development, underground. Waitakere City Council entered into an agreement with Transpower to pay the costs of the relocation.

“The evidence supports the need to relocate the power lines for the development of the town to proceed.

Development in 2015: The first stage of the North-west shopping mall completed, ground works started for stage 2 and the public square, Te Pumanawa.

“In the agreement with Transpower, Waitakere City Council accepted the primary responsibility to pay all the cost of relocating the lines – that is, its own 35% & NZRPG’s 65% share of the cost. The share of the costs to be paid by NZRPG would be recovered under a separate agreement between Waitakere City Council & NZRPG.

“Waitakere City Council was clearly aware that, in accepting the primary payment risk, it needed to protect its position in case NZRPG failed to pay its share of the costs. It put in place several mechanisms to provide this protection, including an offsetting agreement.

“Importantly however, although Auckland Transition Agency confirmed the agreement with Transpower, it did not confirm the offsetting agreement. As a result, the agreement with NZRPG to pay its share was legally invalid. As a result, the council was party to a binding contract to pay the full costs of relocating the power lines without having a corresponding binding contract in place to recover NZRPG’s share of the costs from NZRPG.”

Auckland Council inherited the project and the issue relating to the legal invalidity of the agreement, and resolved this issue by entering into a new agreement with NZRPG to share the costs.

“However, in 2012, it then decided to postpone NZRPG’s obligation to pay its share. Council documents indicate that this decision was made because it perceived a risk to the progression of the project. The result of this decision has been that the financial risk borne by the council & its ratepayers will continue until such time as NZRPG’s contribution has been fully paid. As at 20 September 2016, NZRPG had paid about $3 million of the $11.3 million it owed to Auckland Council.”

Mrs Provost said Waitakere City Council carried out several infrastructure works at its own expense, as part of its contractual relationship with NZRPG. This included construction & widening of roads, the development of intersections, provision of water supply & wastewater services, and the design & construction of the town square & library. “The intention was that the council would subsequently recover some of the costs associated with this work through development contributions to be paid by the developer….

“The calculation of development contributions in this project was not straightforward, given the complexity of assessing the balance between the public & private benefits of the development. We have been unable to ascertain or calculate the value of the development contributions, but expect it to be a significant amount of money.”

On 28 October 2010, days before Auckland Council took office, Waitakere City Council reached an agreement with NZRPG to vary the amount & timing of payments of development contributions.

This was recorded in an exchange of letters over 2 working days, but Mrs Provost said the Auckland Transition Agency didn’t confirm the decision.

“Auckland Council subsequently entered into an agreement with NZRPG to formalise the development contributions arrangements. The agreement provides for the offsetting of some of the development contributions owed, as well as the postponement of when some development contributions are to be assessed & paid.

“While there are still development contributions payable by NZRPG before the end of the project, Auckland Council has taken on a greater risk at this stage in the project by the postponement of these payments. Whether the final amount of development contributions is appropriate will need to be weighed up as part of the overall balance of costs between the parties at the conclusion of the project.”

Specific steps taken by Auckland Council

Once Auckland Council became responsible for the project, Mrs Provost said it immediately sought legal advice on the agreements it had inherited.

“It became clear that the Auckland Transition Agency had not confirmed all of the agreements, which was a prerequisite for transfer to Auckland Council. Auckland Council signed replacement agreements to ensure that they were all legally valid. In October 2011, the regional development & operations committee of Auckland Council agreed that a review into probity issues raised at the committee be conducted and that the review be reported back to the committee for further consideration. Auckland law firm Meredith Connell was commissioned to undertake that review.

“In my view, commissioning this review was good practice given the complicated matrix of arrangements between the former Waitakere City Council & NZRPG. The review put Auckland Council in a good position to understand the obligations it had inherited and any risk that it might need to manage.

“The Meredith Connell review was summarised & discussed at the public-excluded part of the June 2012 regional development & operations committee meeting. The committee agreed that the report & associated resolutions remain confidential until the reasons for confidentiality no longer exist.

“Auckland Council has since improved the contractual arrangements with NZRPG, including linking payments more directly to the delivery of work and instituting a better procurement process for subcontractors working on the new town centre.”

Auditor-general’s conclusions

Mrs Provost concluded: “The amount of information provided to the elected members of Auckland Council on this development could have been more comprehensive. Councillors have been concerned about the project and should not need to resort to me to get answers.

“In my view, the risks involved with this development warrant greater involvement by Auckland Council’s governing body in overseeing the project, including its costs. More information & clarity about the issues that management need to refer to the governing body would help this oversight.

“Public concerns have been raised with my office, and directly with Auckland Council, about the lack of transparency with this development. My office received complaints from members of the public who have been unable to access information about the project, including the Meredith Connell report. Similar concerns have been expressed to my office by council members.

“It is important that local authorities strike the right balance between balancing commercial sensitivity, maintaining legal privilege as appropriate and being open with ratepayers & elected representatives to provide transparency about the agreements they enter into and to demonstrate that they are getting value for money. Such openness allows public discussion & debate, and is essential to supporting public sector accountability.

“In my view, Auckland Council could have made more information about this development available. Auckland Council obtained the Meredith Connell advice on a confidential basis and has treated the report as legally privileged & commercially sensitive.

“Given the public interest and that commercial sensitivity has likely reduced with the passage of time, I encourage Auckland Council to consider what information it could now release – including all or some of the Meredith Connell report.”

Link:
Auditor-general’s statement & report

Attribution: Auditor-general’s office.

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Plan change 15 for Westgate & plan change 36 for Waitakeres fully operative Monday

Waitakere plan change 15, for Massey North, will become operative on Monday 21 October.

A second Waitakere plan change to become operative the same day, No 36, is for rural activities and the social, cultural & economic well-being of the people & communities in the Waitakere Ranges heritage area.

Parts of plan change 15 were made operative in November 2011 and July & November 2012. The last to become operative are amendments to policies, rules & the district plan maps for Massey North’s precinct E.

Plan change 15 was one of 3 introduced for areas across the top of the Waitemata Harbour, in the former Waitakere City Council’s push to create new business & residential zones. Under this plan change, the employment special area of the total 156ha new zone for the new Westgate town centre has been sequenced & prioritised for industrial & employment development, including large-lot development for manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, transport & storage.

Plan change 36 was one of 4 notified by the old Waitakere City Council in 2010, 2 covering outer areas and 2 covering Titirangi Village & New Lynn. Plan change 36 is intended to improve regulatory provisions within the Waitakere Ranges heritage area associated with rural activities, the enabling of future uses of rural land to retain a rural character, and to provide for social, cultural & economic wellbeing. It amends rules in the foothills, bush living, coastal village & Waitakere Ranges environments.

Plan change 35 was for the Waitakere Ranges heritage area, Oratia local area plan, Waiatarua local area plan & Oratia rural village; plan change 37 was for Titirangi Village and variation 1 to plan change 17 was for New Lynn.

Attribution: Council notice.

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DNZ settles Westgate purchase

DNZ Property Fund Ltd has settled its $25 million purchase of a Westgate town centre development site.

The land in zone 5 of the proposed 56ha centre has resource consent for an enclosed shopping centre with 34,000m² gross lettable area.

DNZ chief executive Paul Duffy said the company would undertake considerable further work to fully develop the proposal and ensure project feasibility, including preleasing commitments & long-term funding strategy, before starting development.

Attribution: Company release.

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Commissioner to decide on notification for first 6.8ha business area at Massey North

Published 6 July 2012

The Auckland Council’s hearings committee has appointed barrister David Kirkpatrick to decide whether an application for 6.8ha of commercial & industrial development at Massey North should be notified.

If the application is notified, the committee will make a separate appointment of a hearing panel, most likely from commissioners familiar with NZ Retail Property Group’s development site across State Highway 16 from the Westgate town centre it developed at the top of the North-Western motorway.

The combined business land area & town centre cover 156ha. The application briefly before the committee today was for resource consent for 68,000m² of retail, office & commercial development at 63-65 & 97A Fred Taylor Drive, within the Massey North employment special area.

Environment Judge Craig Thompson signed the consent order for the former Waitakere City Council’s plan change 15 covering this north-western part of Auckland to take effect on 22 May. Auckland Council senior planner Lee Ah Ken said in his report on this application that changed the need to be consider it as a non-complying activity, which was its status when it was first lodged under the operative district plan.

Under the plan change, the employment special area has been sequenced & prioritised for industrial & employment development, including large-lot development for manufacturing, construction, wholesale trade, transport & storage.

Activities which don’t require a large lot, such as office & most retail, are intended to go into the adjoining town centre special area.

Mr Lee said the more restrictive rules for the former rural environment no longer applied and there was no requirement for a comprehensive development plan for the employment special area, acknowledging the flexible design outcomes allowed. This will be the first consent for built development in the employment special area (road & earthworks consents have already been granted).

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Attribution: Council committee agenda & meeting, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Kirkpatrick to hear Massey North town centre development proposals

Published 12 September 2011

Auckland Council’s hearings committee appointed independent commissioner David Kirkpatrick today to hear 3 resource consent applications for the first stage of NZ Retail Property Group Ltd’s Massey North town centre development.

One application is by Retail Property Group company Cannuck Holdings Ltd (Bryce Donne & Mark Gunton) for non-notified consent for 70,586m² of non-residential development within precinct A.

The other 2 applications, by IB & GA Midgley are to construct 29,722m² of non-residential development within precinct A. In site A, it’s made up of retail & restaurant activities (3903m²) & 12 apartments, with basement parking. In site B, the application is for retail activities (13,994m²), office activities (3848m²) & a 79-bed hotel & conference facility (7977m²), with basement parking.

If Mr Kirkpatrick finds the applications need not be notified, he will then hear the substantive applications.

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Attribution: Council committee agenda & meeting, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Initial designs for new Westgate library & square to go on display

Published 6 July 2010

Waitakere City Council will put consultants’ initial designs for the library, town square, bus interchange & shared space in the new Westgate Town Centre on display at the old Massey Library next week.

 

The council has also opened a competition for locals & other interested people to share their ideas for the library & square. The competition runs from 12-23 July.

 

The chairman of the council’s northern strategic growth area urban development committee, Linda Cooper, said today the vision was for a high quality community space.

 

Westgate is the third of Waitakere’s significant sub-regional town centres. NZ Retail Property Group (Mark Gunton & Bryce Donne), which developed the original Westgate shopping centre, is developing the core areas of the new Westgate town centre, which will have the proposed library, town square & bus interchange at its heart.

 

The first stage of the new town centre is expected to open in early 2013, subject to consent requirements.

 

Earlier stories:

18 November 2009: Opposition pushes Massey North start out 8 years from conception

22 May 2009: Waitakere councillor takes swipe at ARC over procrastination

5 March 2009: Council approves design guidelines for Massey North & Hobsonville industrial areas

19 December 2008: Expanded Westgate a new Newmarket?

 

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Attribution: Council release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Opposition pushes Massey North start out 8 years from conception

Published 18 November 2009

Waitakere City Council has been acutely aware for more than a decade that it needs more business land to stop the flow of its workforce to jobs outside the city every day, and in 2002 encouraged Westgate developer NZRPG Management Ltd to create a new Massey North town centre across the road from their original project.

 

7 years & $26 million of development costs down the track, the 156ha new project has been placed inside the metropolitan urban limits but remains stymied by appeals from the Auckland Regional Council over roading and by Foodstuffs (Auckland) Ltd, which wants to be able to build a supermarket box outside the new town centre.

 

NZRPG directors Mark Gunton & Bryce Donne and their development manager, Campbell Barbour, don’t see the divide between the existing centre, at the top of the North-western Motorway, and the new development across the continuation of State Highway 16 as a big deal.

 

The regional council wants a link for pedestrians to cross between the old & the new centres, but Mr Barbour says the whole development will spread for 2km, so people will drive to the part they want to.

 

The development has had the support of the city council all the way through, while the regional council has been keener to see more fine detail in proposals.

 

Developer & city council frustrations boiled over at the regular meeting of the NorSGA urban development committee on Monday – a committee set up to ensure communication between participants from the city council, the private sector and regional & national agencies involved in Waitakere’s northern strategic growth area, which stretches from Westgate/Massey North across to Hobsonville airbase & Greenhithe at the top of the Waitemata Harbour.

 

Committee chairman Linda Cooper was disappointed that not only had the regional council appealed against the whole plan change for Massey North – after it had gone through a hearing organised by the regional council and won hearing panel approval in 2007 – but that the regional council had stopped sending a representative to NorSGA meetings.

 

“The whole tragedy & shame about it is that, at a high level, the ARC & Government do not understand this development is hugely significant. Compared to ‘a few rugby games’ in 2011 for the Rugby World Cup, the North-west development is a $380 million programme.

 

“People under-estimate the importance of this part of the region in the regional economy. The potential is huge, but people’s prejudice against anything outside the cbd is blinding them to the opportunities here.”

In May, Cllr Cooper said the Waitakere council involved the regional council, Auckland Regional Transport Authority & Transit NZ (now NZ Transport Agency) throughout the planning for the metropolitan urban limit shift. The joint hearings panel decided to incorporate a shift in the urban limit for Massey North, Hobsonville Village & Hobsonville airbase and the regional council confirmed that decision. The appeals against the shifts (plan change 7) have been resolved, but Cllr Cooper said the regional council was still holding out on confirming that plan change 7 was fully operative.

Mr Barbour told the committee NZRPG was “just about at our last straw with the comprehensive development plan process – it’s crystal ball gazing…. One of the lessons I’ve learnt from this process is that we need to reflect the realities of commercial life.

 

“In property, if you get 80% of it right, you’ve done very well, because you don’t know how the other 20% will pan out. But all the experts here are aiming for a utopia. They want to tell us how many cars are going to turn right on a particular day in 2021.

 

“You get to a point wher,e mathematically, you can’t get an outcome because you will never get it right. But it’s only bricks & mortar, you can shift it round. That sentiment needs to be explained to the people in this process, otherwise you will get 100% of nothing, and that’s what we’ve got at the moment.”

 

Mr Gunton said in an earlier interview: “It’s been tortuously slow. We’ve been going through the planning process for 7 years, signed the memorandum of understanding with the council in 2004, and we’re still probably 18 months away from achievable success in terms of any signoff.

 

“We’ve got this hiatus, and the very scary thing for us is the territorial authority doesn’t have power to do anything. Are we in a holding pattern forever?

 

“The ARC’s given us the MUL (moved the urban limit boundary outside the development area) and now won’t let us play with it. Their major issue seems to be traffic: We said the problems don’t occur until 2021 and they say you have to provide for it now. Because we’ve got this comprehensive development overlay, you’ve got to plan the whole town in detail.

 

“But Massey North will develop over time. Westgate started out as 30,000m² and it’s now 45,00m².”

 

The expansion is planned to have 65,000m² of office & 100,000m² of retail. However, Mr Gunton said another factor in the long delay was that competing interests were able to get consent for smaller projects in the meantime.

 

Earlier stories:

22 May 2009: Waitakere councillor takes swipe at ARC over procrastination

5 March 2009: Council approves design guidelines for Massey North & Hobsonville industrial areas

19 December 2008: Expanded Westgate a new Newmarket?

 

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Attribution: Council committee meeting, phone interviews, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Expanded Westgate a new Newmarket?

Published 19 December 2008

While much of the property industry is on its knees, NZ Retail Property Group Ltd (Mark Gunton & Bryce Donne) has 2 of the country’s biggest development plans in progress and realistic prospects of starting at least one of them by the end of next year.

 

Retail Property Group has a $700 million portfolio and will increase that to $1 billion with the Westgate Town Centre & Milford developments.

 

The company bought the Milford & Highbury shopping centres on the North Shore last year, has put redevelopment of Highbury on the back burner and is awaiting resource consent & a plan change to progress the revitalisation & comprehensive redevelopment of its 2.9ha Milford site, where it wants to add 200 apartments in 3 towers above the shops.

 

Project director Allan McGregor said in support of those planning applications: “We believe the transformation of the Milford Centre site will serve as a catalyst for wider public & private investment to the benefit of residents and secure Milford’s future as a premier suburb on the Shore.”

 

But that ambitious scheme is small beer compared to Retail Property Group’s plans for the expansion of its Westgate centre, at the end of Auckland’s North-western Motorway.

 

The company began developing its 12ha shopping centre in the 1990s, always with the belief that it would eventually fulfill Waitakere politicians’ desire for Westgate to become the third major hub in west Auckland.

 

With a few “ifs” to overcome, work should start late next year on making that dream a reality. One of the “ifs” concerns trade competition – the battle between the Progressive Enterprises Ltd & Westfield NZ Ltd belief that retail development should be centres-based, versus the Foodstuffs (Auckland) Ltd belief that it should plant its supermarket boxes where it seems appropriate.

 

That contest stopped Foodstuffs from building its Wairau Rd supermarket for nearly 15 years, and from opening the one it has built for another 3. In the west, the same contest is being played out in submissions on Waitakere City Council’s plan change 15, covering Westgate but currently referred to as the Massey North plan change.

 

Another of the “ifs” concerns the Auckland Regional Council’s recent preference for development along strategic corridors, one of which is Lincoln Rd, between the North-western Motorway & Henderson town centre. Trying to develop a corridor that runs for more than 3km, with commercial buildings erected right to the pavement and all the way along the corridor, seems an unlikely prospect but is one that is being seriously considered.

 

In contrast, Retail Property Group has succeeded in developing a more natural – & walkable – town centre at Westgate than most of this country’s private developers have done, and plans to do an even better town centre job on 40ha north of the present end of the motorway, beside the motorway extension and at the junction with the new State Highway 18 coming from the North Shore.

 

The future plans depend on plan change 15 being put in place quite quickly, followed by resource consents which the company can not seek until the plan change is in place. Those plans envisage the existing centre being expanded across the present Highway 16 to Kumeu, a special industrial employment area being developed to the north beyond a buffer zone, and intensive residential development beside the expanded town centre.

 

Outsiders might mock, but Retail Property Group sees the potential for a Newmarket at the top of the motorway. Like Newmarket, developed into a prime retail & business centre decades ago because all traffic went through it, Westgate is planned to be a major business centre for the north-west, at a junction on new arterials.

 

Mr McGregor wants to be able to start earthworks by late next year so the main part of the new town centre can be completed by 2012, shortly after completion of the State Highway 18 link, ahead of completion of the extension of State Highway 20 bringing traffic from the airport through to Waterview by 2015.

 

“It will start to rationalise the catchments between north & west. For people who live in Greenhithe, shopping here becomes an option instead of going to the North Shore. Commercial office also becomes a choice.

 

“For industry it could also be a choice. North Shore is full, the next is Silverdale and this will have 50ha set aside for industry. In 3-4 years, that could be gone.”

 

Mr McGregor said Retail Property Group had funding lines in place for the development and its existing Westgate centre was already attracting some major retail names, moving in to get a feel for the district. Hallensteins was an example, moving out of Takapuna to Albany, Glenfield and now Westgate.

 

“I think those retailers will come out here (to the existing centre) because ultimately they’ll move across the road (to the new town centre). They’ll try out with a 2- or 3-year lease first.”

 

Councils & their planners often looked at a full picture of intensification, seeing office buildings, even office parks, without working out how to get there. Mr McGregor said getting retailers in would fix the first stage, the ground floor. “Then everything else will follow. And why is it a good retail site? Because of its location – we get 4-6 million visitors a year now for 45,000m² of commercial, predominantly retail, space.

 

“The expansion will have 65,000m² of office & 100,000m² of retail and it’s planned, whereas Ti Rakau Drive in Manukau, for example, was more higgledy-piggledy in its development. This will also be more easily walkable than Sylvia Park, which is 600m long.”

 

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Attribution: Company presentation, interview, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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