The Press

Va­cant lot fi­nally sells for $30m

- LizMcDon­ald liz.mcdon­ald@stuff.co.nz

Af­ter years of dis­putes and le­gal wran­gling, a large va­cant block near Christchur­ch Air­port has sold for an es­ti­mated $30 mil­lion and is likely to be de­vel­oped.

The high-pro­file 17.4 hectares of pad­dock on the cor­ner of Me­mo­rial Ave and Rus­s­ley Rd (State High­way 1) by the air­port gate­way, has been at the cen­tre of a long saga.

For years long-time owner Gra­ham Hea­zle­wood screened the site be­hind black poly­thene spray-painted with the mes­sage ‘‘air­port land theft’’.

He was protest­ing zon­ing rules pre­vent­ing him from build­ing houses, shops or of­fices while the air­port op­po­site de­vel­oped its land.

The prop­erty has been the sub­ject of sub­mis­sions to the Christchur­ch City Coun­cil, En­vi­ron­ment Can­ter­bury (ECan) and cen­tral gov­ern­ment. It has also been in and out of the hands of fam­ily trusts as­so­ci­ated with Hea­zle­wood, and at the cen­tre of a mat­ri­mo­nial court bat­tle.

About three years ago, it was re­zoned from al­low­ing ru­ral use only to in­dus­trial park use.

Hea­zle­wood’s com­pany, Me­mo­rial In­vest­ments, then put the site on the mar­ket, and it was fi­nally of­fered by dead­line sale this month.

The buyer’s iden­tity re­mains un­der wraps, but Sav­ills real es­tate agent Ryan Ged­des, who han­dled the sale, said it was a group plan­ning to oc­cupy part of the land and de­velop the rest.

The price has also not been dis­closed but it is un­der­stood to be more than $30m.

Per­mit­ted uses for the land could in­clude in­dus­try and tech­nol­ogy, ho­tels, ser­vice sta­tions, food out­lets, gyms, film pro­duc­tion, park­ing build­ings, and bulk trade-type re­tail­ing.

Ged­des said in­ter­est in the site came from busi­nesses want­ing to use part of the land, and ‘‘three or four’’ de­vel­op­ers want­ing the whole lot.

The land’s lo­ca­tion was ‘‘fan­tas­tic’’ and a lot could be done with it, he said.

’’It’s great news that some­one is fi­nally go­ing to de­velop the site, be­cause it’s sat there for a long, long time caught up in con­tro­versy and plan­ning is­sues.’’

Hea­zle­wood bought the land in parts start­ing in the early 1990s, un­suc­cess­fully ap­ply­ing to re­zone it to de­velop large for­mat re­tail, a 300-bed ho­tel, up­mar­ket restau­rants and an of­fice park.

He ac­cused the city coun­cil of con­flict of in­ter­est be­cause of its ma­jor­ity own­er­ship of the air­port, and erected his protest fence in 2003.

By 2007, the makeshift fenc­ing had be­come tagged and torn and was be­ing la­belled an eye­sore. Af­ter years of pub­lic com­plaints the site was even­tu­ally ti­died.

It has been the sub­ject of sev­eral sales cam­paigns lead­ing up to its even­tual sale this month.

 ??  ?? The prop­erty (out­lined in red) on the cor­ner of Me­mo­rial Ave and Rus­s­ley Rd has changed hands.
The prop­erty (out­lined in red) on the cor­ner of Me­mo­rial Ave and Rus­s­ley Rd has changed hands.
 ??  ??

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