19 Dec 2018

Developments offer Wellington street golden opportunities

2:48 pm on 19 December 2018

New retail developments are set to breathe life into Manners Street, a not-so-shiny part of Wellington's Golden Mile.

Japanese restaurant TJ Katsu owner Ted Jun.

Japanese restaurant TJ Katsu owner Ted Jun. Photo: RNZ / Dan Dalgety

Some companies have struggled since ANZ and BNZ shut closed in 2015 and 2016.

However, nine businesses are set to open in the next three months.

The Golden Mile - Wellington's popular high-end shopping zone, stretches from Lambton Quay to Courtenay Place.

But the gloss has gone off the shops in the Manners Street section in the past few years.

Bryan Block, director of Crown Commercial, the real estate company that arranged leases for the new businesses, said the bank closures left vacant shops and meant less foot traffic.

"With [ANZ and BNZ] both exiting, it just left a huge hole. It's now taken a little while for us to get around to replacing those tenants. The banks had lease tails, which means they still had leases in place. We've managed to proactively go out and find a lot of new tenants to Wellington."

Among the nine businesses set to open are the Australian bakery giant Breadtop and the new Wellington City Council offices.

A Japanese restaurant TJ Katsu opened another store in Kordia House in November.

Its owner Ted Jun believes he knows the key to turning Manners Street's fortunes around.

"As long as we have some good foodies - nice dumpling shops.

"We have a lot of good foodies around [here]. A lot of people pass through [Willis Street via Manners Street] ... because when they go to work they pass by, when they back come home they pass by. There [is] a lot of foot traffic."

Another new store is a Japanese bargain chain Daiso, which will open in January next year.

Its spokesperson Hina Ishikawa said they looked all around the central city before settling on Manners Street.

"When we were looking for the site, we walked around the whole Wellington city. We found Manners Street is very close to what we have in Auckland."

The real estate agent Bryan Block said more international stores were moving to Wellington.

"If you look at a couple of the leases we've done here for Breadtop and Gongcha - they're huge in Australia. [They] came to Auckland, now filtering down to Wellington and across New Zealand."

The street has been a thoroughfare since 2010, after being a mall for 30 years.

A Wellington-based retail consultant Chris Wilkinson said Manners Street had undergone a slow evolution.

"We're also seeing the area much more populated now. We've got the big student hostel sitting in behind, the large apartment blocks that are going into Victoria Street and Dixon Street - so all of those will contribute to quite a different audience in that area and quite a different opportunity for businesses.

Chris Wilkinson predicts it will take about six months before the foot traffic comes back to Manners Street.

All nine businesses are opening between now and February next year.