A landmark Tudor-style accommodation house overlooking central Whanganui from a commanding hillside site has been put on the open market for the first time in over 60 years.
Built in 1915 as the Braeburn Hotel, and now known as the upmarket Braeburn Apartments, the three-storey heritage-listed building at 15 Putiki Drive is a prominent feature rising over the Whanganui River from the slopes of Durie Hill.
Originally constructed for a syndicate of journalists – John Ball, James Inkster and a Mr Younge – the ornately decorated structure was considered one of the most imposing private hotels in the country and quickly built up an influential clientele.
The original wooden verandas were built to resemble a ship’s decking facing across the river and out to the Tasman Sea. The interior was adorned with decorative ceilings, half-panelled walls of heart rimu, wide staircases, a grand entrance foyer, elegant dining room and a long conservatory filled with hanging plants and flowers.
Extended in 1923, the building was used by the army during World War 2 as a tactical school and later converted and operated as flats by successive owners.
In 1987 the property was bought privately by its current owners, brothers Brad and Mel L’Huillier, who made it their home while spending years restoring it to its former glory as a prestigious accommodation house.
With the owners now retiring to pursue other interests, the freehold property at 15 Putiki Drive is being marketed for sale by tender closing on Friday 30 April, through Bayleys Whanganui and Bayleys Palmerston North.
Salespeople Lewis Townshend and Jordan Davis said Braeburn Apartments today specialised in quality rental accommodation for single professionals and retirees.
Mr Townshend said the property was fully tenanted and currently generated annual net income of approximately $150,000 from 20 apartments.
“The strength of demand for these apartments is reflected in the long average lease tenure of around seven years, and there is always a waiting list for future residents,” Mr Townshend said.
“Fully-occupied with mostly long-standing tenants, this residential accommodation house represents an easily managed investment. Recent growth in the rental market suggests there could be significant income upside for new owners.”
Mr Townshend said the extensively refurbished historic building of some 1,860 square metres sat on approximately 2,508 square metres of land, with secure off-street parking for 12 vehicles plus garaging for eight more.
“The site offers a range of premium accommodation options, with eight two-bedroom, nine one-bedroom and three bedsit apartments.
“All units are in very good condition throughout, and are tastefully decorated in keeping with the style and period of the building. Each is partially furnished and painted in neutral tones with quality wool carpets,” said Mr Townshend.
Mr Davis said the building was solidly constructed of double-cavity brick and plaster, with rimu joinery, Oregon beams, matai flooring and Decramastic roofing.
“The ceilings have been insulated, there is a monitored fire-alarm system and the property has a current building warrant of fitness.
“The overall condition of the building and gardens is first-class, and the historical significance of the site has been recognised with a Category 2 Heritage New Zealand listing,” said Mr Davis.
The property is zoned Residential Zone A under Whanganui District Council’s district plan, yet lies directly across the river from the central business district a few hundred metres away over the Whanganui City Bridge.
“Thanks to the site’s elevated position on Putiki Drive, residents are treated with sweeping views over the Whanganui River and city and out to sea,” said Mr Davis.
“With the restaurants, cafes and amenities of the city centre just a few minutes’ walk away, it’s little wonder the Braeburn Apartments are among the most desirable residential addresses in town.”