Ōtaki Yard has been sold to a Wellington property development company.
Settlement of the sale to The Wellington Company is in September next year. A statement from a representative of current owner and British investor Nigel Ross confirmed the sale and said the usual market days and tenants in the Collective on the site would continue operating in the meantime.
“Ōtaki Yard will continue to operate as a community hub until the settlement, with the Collective open, monthly markets and other community events scheduled,” the statement said.
The Wellington Company is owned by property developers Ian Cassels and Caitlin Taylor. They would not comment on the sale or indicate what future the prime retail site on the highway might have.
The company has been a big player in the redevelopment of Wellington City’s urban environments and historic places. It is currently involved in a planned housing development at the Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club.
It has focused on rejuvenating many of Wellington’s pre-1960 buildings. The Wellington Company website says: “. . . it was this early passion for rebuilding and re-creating a city’s culture and heritage that has grown into the underlying philosophy and drive of The Wellington Company as it is seen today”.
Before Nigel Ross bought what was a Caltex service station, there was speculation about the possibilities. The block of land had been vacant for about a year, creating a big gap in Ōtaki’s main retail sector.
Ōtaki Yard was due to open in March last year before Covid-19 interrupted the plans. When it opened in June it was touted as a precursor to what Nigel hoped would be a “social hub” including food trucks, boutique retail stores and entertainment by local musicians and performers.
In the final development, the big high-stud shed and the former service station building were to be refurbished. It was hoped long-term tenants could include businesses such as a micro-brewery/distillery or cafe along with complementary retailers.
Richard Innes of Barak Property, which managed Nigel’s property portfolio in New Zealand, said at the time Ōtaki Yard presented an opportunity to capitalise on the traffic going through Ōtaki.
“When the expressway is finished, the travel time to Ōtaki will decrease and since Ōtaki is the only town with planned interchanges to the north and south, it will be an easy rest stop for travellers.”
The concept was supported by Ōtaki Ward councillor James Cootes. He’s disappointed it’s being sold, but given the impacts of Covid he understands why.
“With more than $6 million being spent on the SH1 revocation in the coming years, it’s no surprise the site has been snapped up.”
James says he has seen other Wellington Company developments and he’s keen to talk with them about their vision for the site, and “how we can work together to enhance the experience Ōtaki has to offer and reinforce Ōtaki as a destination”.
Market days at the Yard were initially successful. A night market in July last year with trains from Paraparaumu was almost too popular, creating traffic problems on the highway as visitors sought to cross from the railway station to the Yard.
Markets this year have had mixed success, and Covid restrictions have not helped. Friday and Saturday evening food trucks have attracted a good number of customers.
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