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Whitcoulls sells in Wellington, Christchurch

By Chris Hutching

Friday 18th July 2003

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Whitcoulls landmark centre city properties in Christchurch and Wellington have been sold by W H Smith Aspac but the businesses have leased back space in long-term agreements.

The move allows W H Smith to free up capital while retaining the New Zealand household Whitcoulls brand. The properties were placed on the market in May along with the Auckland Whitcoulls property at 210 Queen St.

The four-level Christchurch former regional branch property at 111 Cashel St was sold for $8 million at a yield of 9.65% by David Wallace of CB Richard Ellis, to Lichfield Holdings, owned by former seafarer Nicholas Hunt. The new lease is for 15 years, with internal refurbishments planned.

In Wellington the five-level Whitcoulls building on Lambton Quay, built in 1907, sold for $7.7 million to "a New Zealand family property group."

Whitcoulls has taken a new 12-year lease of the ground, first and second floors, leaving the third and fourth floors vacant.

The two vacant floors have a net lettable area of 1224sq m.

Meanwhile, the larger Auckland Whitcoulls property on the corner of Victoria and Queen Sts is under negotiation and expected to fetch considerably more than the Christchurch and Wellington properties, according to CB Richard Ellis agent Jon Chomley.

Five vacant upper floors provide redevelopment opportunities for developers and a $3 million seismic strengthening programme is scheduled to begin in September.

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