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Garden centre to up its roots after more than a century

Garden centre to up its roots after more than a century

The birthplace of New Zealand’s biggest garden and nursery retail chain, Palmers, has been placed on the market for sale – and has already been tagged for conversion into a residential development.

The 1.25 hectare site in the Auckland suburb of Glen Eden was first established as a nursery in 1912 by company founder Arthur William Palmer. Large glasshouses on the property were used to grow plants for sale throughout the Palmers retail network. Neighbouring road Palmer Avenue was named in honour of Arthur Palmer.

Over the ensuing decades, Arthur's four sons - Geoff, Stan, Frank and Howard - worked at the garden centre, along with his daughter Jessie's husband, George. In 1958 the company built the large retail complex currently on site. The Palmers chain now has 15 branches, spread across Whangarei, Auckland, the bay of Plenty, the Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Wellington.

However the Glen Eden store shut its doors in May this year in preparation for taking the property to market. The Great North Road land is zoned ‘living’ under the current Auckland Council District Plan, and ‘mixed housing urban’ under the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.

The property is being jointly marketed for sale by real estate agencies Bayleys and Savills, through a tender process closing on July 31. Bayleys salesperson Brian Caldwell said that under the proposed Unitary Plan, the land sat in a ‘transition’ belt between terrace housing and apartment zones.

“The ‘living’ zoning is quite broad in what it will allow to be built – ranging from detached dwellings and terraced housing through to low-rise apartments,” Mr Caldwell said.

“With such an expansive 134 metre street frontage, and the contour of the site being relatively flat, residential property developers and their architects have enormous opportunity to design a variety of housing configurations under differing densities.

“Because of that density diversity, it’s impossible to guesstimate what the value of the land will be as there are so many permutations of what can actually be built. That is why the vendor has opted for a tender process – enabling the market to set the price.”

Savills salesperson Daniel Byrne said it was fascinating to see how the site’s land usage had evolved over the past 100 years.

“In 1912, Glen Eden was part of the agricultural green belt around Central Auckland – producing fruit and vegetables for the city’s population. Now Glen Eden is simply part of suburbia and land once used to feed the city’s population will now be used to house the city’s population,” he said.

Mr Byrne said there was little chance the existing retail structure or glasshouses would be kept by any new owner long-term.

“The premises are occupied by a café and beauty therapist, both of whom are there on short term leases. A new owner may choose to retain both in order to provide holding income while development schemes are worked up and resource consents are sought,” Mr Byrne said.

“There is significant value in the land and future development options and unfortunately, as with many historical land holdings, the buildings are of scrap value only. In time they will cleared, and sadly, with them goes the last remaining links to what has been the most popular garden centre in the west for the past 40 years.”

Tenders for the Great North Road site close on July 31.


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