Hot off the press – Waikato newspaper to sell its head office site
The offices and printing plant of The Waikato Times newspaper have been placed on the market for sale as the publication’s parent company, Fairfax Media Ltd, adapt its business model to meet the demands of changing consumer needs.
The Waikato Times site in Foreman Road in North-West Hamilton is a vast complex of offices and warehousing plant spread over some 3.3 hectares of land adjacent to the main trunk rail line and near to State Highway 1.
The property encompasses three titles. The northern land portion is 5889 square metres, the middle portion is approximately 2.4 hectares, while the southern title is 3065 square metres. A rail siding was in operation from the site’s main factory when papers were previously transported north and south into the region, and newsprint rolls were brought in from Auckland and Kawerau. The rail sidings were removed in the 1990s although the landscaping and access way remain intact.
All titles are being sold as one block – with buildings on the site occupying some 30 percent of the total land space. The property is being marketed for sale by Bayleys Hamilton through a tender process closing on September 19. The tender is being coordinated by salespeople Mike Swanson and Andy Shaw.
Mr Swanson said the rectangular shaped northern land parcel contained a relatively modern workshop and office amenity building served by a large sealed car parking space with room for approximately 100 vehicles. The workshop – with roller door access from a rear yard - measured 621 square metres while the adjoining amenities and offices over two storeys totaled 584 square metres.
“The ground floor offices are divided into several zones – containing a store room, entry foyer and reception, toilets and showers, and a lunchroom. The upper floor is also divided into offices. Both levels are serviced with air conditioning and heating,” he said.
“The middle land parcel contains the paper’s 1978 square metre administration block, the 1809 square metre printing press building, and 1767 square metres of warehousing – with five vehicle entrances off Foreman Road.
“Harking back to the days when print was freighted in and newspapers freighted out, there is an underground rail system between the printing press building and the main storage facility.
“While that era is now gone for the printing business, the infrastructure would prove useful for businesses which need to move heavy materials or equipment from a storage area to a processing plant while being protected from the elements and with minimal handling. The gable roof storage warehouse is constructed of structural steel and has a seven metre stud,” Mr Swanson added.
The southern land parcel contains the car parking space and an outside storage area. Neighbouring corporate business in the Foreman Road precinct include Fonterra, plastics packaging firm Sealed Air, freight companies Linfox and Mainfreight, and the Te Rapa campus of tertiary institute Wintec’. Sealed Air opened a $20 million plant extension earlier this year.
The Waikato Times started out as the tri-weekly Waikato Times and Thames Valley Gazette. It was first published in 1872 in Ngaruawahia. The publication moved to Hamilton in 1875 and changed from afternoon to morning production in 2011.
Mr Shaw said Fairfax would lease part of the site – comprising all of the current administration offices, printing press, and paper store - for three years but with a clause allowing the company to vacate both the office space and plant operations as early as April 2015. New offices for the paper’s editorial, advertising and administration personnel are currently being sourced by Bayleys – with a range of CBD and city-fringe locations being identified.
“Fairfax Media Ltd has indicated that there is some flexibility around the date of vacant possession – allowing for the potential of a leaseback to any purchaser in the interim. On the sale date there will be an office building and yard area not included in the lease area that a purchaser can use immediately after sale,” Mr Shaw said.
“With the Waikato Expressway motorway targeted for completion in 2014, the New Zealand Transport Agency is forecasting an improvement of the travelling time between Hamilton and Auckland down to one hour. For Waikato firms looking to ship materials and product in and out of Auckland, the new four lane highway will bring increased efficiencies.
“Travelling times will continue to improve as the greater Waikato Expressway project comes to fruition by 2019. As Auckland’s population continues to expand, Hamilton will eventually be a satellite city – with the Foreman Road precinct well positioned to benefit from both growth and access.
“And with the substantial amount on vacant land associated with this property, there is considerable scope to tailor-build new warehousing or production plant. Being in three titles, any new owner will also have multiple options for possible resale of any of the portions.”
Tenders for the site close on September 19.