Half of Waikato-Tainui's flagship development, The Base shopping centre in Hamilton, will go up for sale as the tribe seeks to free up cash.

The shopping development, run by the iwi's commercial development arm Tainui Group Holdings (TGH), was first punted in 2002, and is now home to 180 shops and businesses sprawled across 87,000 square metres of retail space. It is one of the largest shopping centres in New Zealand.

TGH said in a statement now was the right time to "seek an experienced joint venture partner and operator to help us take The Base to the next level of excellence".

The move comes as the iwi ramps up efforts to diversify its investments. In its most recent annual report, Waikato-Tainui made it clear that current investments would be altered in order for it to invest in areas that would offer growth returns to the tribe, its estate, and job opportunities. 

TGH's portfolio is skewed heavily towards property, with 83 per cent of its investments in property or leasing. That rises to 92 per cent when fisheries and farm assets are added to the mix.

Acting TGH chief executive, Chris Joblin, said 50 per cent of The Base Limited, which managed The Base, would go up for sale. However, the land would remain in the ownership of Waikato-Tainui. The land was returned to Waikato-Tainui as part of its 1995 settlement with the Crown. 

"What we're looking for is a partner that's got mutually beneficial skills to us as we look to take The Base to the next level," he said.

"What we see in the future is bringing in global brands, people like Topshop, Zara, H&M. Getting people like that into the region and the city would be great."

Joblin denied the decision had anything to do with the Hamilton City Council's recent change to a capital rating system, which would see its rates skyrocket between 139 and 450 per cent. He said it was "not even a consideration in our strategy".

He confirmed the hunt for a partner would go global, and said the sale of two other mall spaces in Hamilton was not a concern.

"The Base operates at a slightly different level to the two other centres, [it's] what we'd call a super-regional centre."

"What we see is that there is real demand for a quality asset like The Base."

Centre Place South in the central business district was put on the market in February, followed by Westfield Chartwell.

Centre Place South, formerly called Downtown Plaza, offered 11,000 square metres of retail space and was recently given a $36m facelift. Owners Kiwi Property Group said at the time they wanted to reduce their exposure in the Hamilton market.

Scentre Group put Westfield Chartwell's 29,000 square metres of retail space up for sale after a vocal fight over the council's move to a capital rating system. However, it denied that was behind the reason for sale, and said it was putting four other malls up for part-sale at the same time. 

The Base was previously managed as a joint venture with The Warehouse Group between 2003 and 2008. 

Read more



- Stuff

Image: An aerial shot of The Base in 2013. Half of the development is now up for sale.


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