Investment company buys Palmerston North shopping centre

Downtown, pictured in 2003 from the Broadway end, has been sold after 30 years in the hands of Downtown on Broadway Ltd.

william thorrold jaggard/PALMERSTON NORTH CITY LIBRARY

Downtown, pictured in 2003 from the Broadway end, has been sold after 30 years in the hands of Downtown on Broadway Ltd.

The Downtown Palmerston North shopping centre has sold to an investment company representing iwi and Māori trusts.

The sale to Iwiinvestor​ Group Holdings Ltd settles on March 1 after 30 years in the hands of Downtown on Broadway Ltd, whose shareholders include members of the Higgins and Norwood families.

Downtown is the city’s second biggest mall and is home to Event Cinemas, the Health Hub, Cotton On, the 42nd Street Eatery and other shops. Last year the Timezone gaming arcade returned to the mall after a lengthy absence.

Downtown opened in 1990.

Iwiinvestor Group Holdings represents mostly central North Island small to medium interests. It already has a presence in Palmerston North, managing investments on behalf of two iwi in the new FMG building on the corner of Church and Pitt streets.

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Iwiinvestor Group Holdings director Tim Fitzgerald said the strength of the Palmerston North economy made it an attractive option for investment.

It was too early to talk about future plans for Downtown and options to enhance it were a work in progress.

Fitzgerald said the retail sector in New Zealand was performing well, especially compared with overseas.

The FMG partnership had given the company an affinity for the district and it was keen to buy Downtown because “chunkier” investments didn’t often come up in the area.

“We’re quite excited by the potential growth and exciting growth in recent years, since 2016.”

The mall has undergone much change in recent years, including the new food court at the Main St end opening in late 2016, two years after the old food court under the cinema shut.

Also in 2016 Event Cinemas, owned by Australian company Event Hospitality and Entertainment, bought Downtown Cinemas.

A statement from Downtown about the mall sale says: “This acquisition and others in the pipeline attest to [Iwiinvestor Group Holdings’] strong belief in the region.”

The statement describes Iwiinvestor as “an investment company sourcing and securing prime investments for iwi and Māori trusts throughout Aotearoa”.

Downtown chairman Bill Wallace said Downtown on Broadway Ltd was proud of its development and management of the mall for the past 30 years.

“Through a combination of particularly good staff and the support of local consumers, the owners have had the satisfaction of developing the properties into significant local businesses.

“We are pleased that a company committed to the region will be taking over the properties.”

Fitzgerald said a confidentiality clause meant he was unable to discuss the sale price.

According to property records, the three units that make up Downtown, including the car park, had a capital value of $20.3 million in 2018.