FORESIGHT IS a remarkable thing. But perhaps a more valuable quality may be insight. Back in 1838, when James Hamlin bought a block of land, subsequently named Waipuna Farm, he would have struggled to predict the success stories of the next 50-odd years, let alone the developments of a further 160.
Sylvia Park today is a massive retail centre that stands on the portion of Waipuna Farm that in 1882 was a highly successful stud farm of the same name. Taking its title from the mare Sylvia, dam of the first New Zealand Melbourne Cup winner Martini-Henry, Sylvia Park Mark I reached its zenith with Carbine an inaugural inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
Today, New Zealand's latest, largest and quite possibly most diverse shopping centre sits on a site steeped in history; a site of strategic importance to all who have resided upon it. This is an exclusive club that includes early Maori settlers, European farmers, the New Zealand government and even, during World War II, the United States Army.
Purchased by Kiwi Income Property Trust (KIPT) in two chunks, one in 1995 and the other in 1998, the 24ha site was formerly most familiar to Aucklanders for the symmetrical roof lines of the old US army sheds that stood there.
It was a location, almost equidistant between Auckland's two harbours, with proximity to cities north and south and connections to major arterial routes, that interested KIPT greatly. However, with re-zoning necessary, acquiring the land wasn't so much a matter of foresight, but insight and patience, says Kiwi's chief executive Angus McNaughton.
"Kiwi purchased part of the site in 1995, with the balance in 1998, for very similar reasons to those of the New Zealand Government: its accessibility, via road and rail, and its exposure to the greater Auckland metropolitan area. Fifty percent of Auckland's population live within a 20 minute drive," he says.
That fifty percent is a number that looks likely to further increase with the unveiling of Auckland City Council's Tamaki Edge initiative. New Zealand's biggest urban renewal project, Tamaki Edge fits into Auckland City's growth management strategy a strategy that will see investment of around $2 billion fuelling the economic growth of the area. This includes everything from new rail stations, revitalised town centres, a rapidly growing university technology park, and 2600 homes for up to 6000 residents in a 110-hectare former quarry site the largest residential master-planned community devised within Auckland City's boundaries.
For KIPT, Sylvia Park also represents an opportunity to establish a foothold in the profitable Auckland retail market.
"Sylvia Park is undoubtedly one of the Trust's flagship assets, further diversifying our portfolio and revenue streams. The retail sector of property investment has great prospects, but it can be difficult to establish a presence. Options for investment in existing centres appear rarely. Sylvia Park was an opportunity to start from scratch and get it right," says McNaughton.
The numbers stack up: Sylvia Park sits at the confluence of central, southern and eastern Auckland at the junction of the Southern Motorway and Mt Wellington Highway, with the South Eastern Arterial crossing above the middle of the site. Approximately 700,000 residents live within a 20 minute drive of Sylvia Park. Drive time analysis by Market Economics shows that within this 20 minute radius Sylvia Park has access to 35% more residents than St Lukes, 114% more than Botany Town Centre, and 29% more than Manukau City.