Cassels, the founder and Director of The Wellington Company, has been a major player in the redevelopment of Wellington city's urban environments and historic places. His recent projects include Paetutu in Petone, a development of 56 new terraced, two-storied homes. He has now purchased a four-storey Council-owned property at 177 High Street, formerly occupied by the BNZ Bank, and has plans to develop it into apartments and retail space.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace says the interest of such a well-respected and influential developer in the City is a real vote of confidence.
“Council has a vision and a plan to rejuvenate Lower Hutt and, being right in the heart of the city, the CBD is an important part of this strategy. That vision is widely supported by residents and businesses in all our surveys, so we’re getting on with it,” he said.
“Council has a role to play to encourage and support developers who can bring that vision to life. The property at 177 High Street is in such a strategic position relating to the Riverlink and Promenade projects it was always going to be a future development opportunity and I’m thrilled Ian Cassels has recognised that potential as well.”
The Riverlink project is a long-term plan that includes turning the Lower Hutt CBD to face and connect with the Hutt River, and the development of a riverside promenade.
Ian Cassels says he is pleased to be part of the CBD rejuvenation.
“We see Lower Hutt as an essential part of the Wellington offering and believe that it has a strong role to play as a ‘living city’ with all of the creative shoots that this will entail. We are delighted to be able to participate in the development of the Hutt CBD and believe that with the planned river redevelopment, the future of Lower Hutt is looking very, very good.”
The property was put up for sale late last year and Council CE Tony Stallinger says they received a selection of good quality bids from experienced developers. The sale was agreed at a special meeting of Council on Tuesday night.
“We are very proud of the progress we are making towards rejuvenating the city and we will continue to be involved in selected property redevelopment activities towards that goal, not just in the CBD, but also areas such as Wainuiomata and Naenae,” he said.
“This strategy requires bold decisions, such as our policy for the remission of fees and charges, which has been extremely successful in attracting developers. At times we will also need to step in to kick start significant projects by funding development infrastructure or participating in land transactions. Projects like this one are worth it, as they not only rejuvenate the city, they also add to our rates revenue and attract new businesses and workers to the city.”
“We temper this with a sound financial strategy to limit debt and keep rates increases low. Our property activities are also doing extremely well; last year we returned an overall surplus on property of $8 million and our net property revaluations in 2018 have recorded further gains of $30 million.”