THE owner of the Farmers building in Invercargill says he has been approached with an offer to buy the building.

The Dee St building is owned by Nelson-based property developer Gaire Thompson’s Pascoe Properties, which is a major player in the Invercargill property market, owning a host of inner city buildings.

Included is The Warehouse, Smiths City, Noel Leeming, the Menzies Building and the Cue building on Don St which is currently being renovated.

The front entrance of the Cue building was being enclosed with a plan to offer it as a potential site for a cafe or restaurant, Mr Thompson said.

Mr Thompson has previously raised concerns that national retail chain Farmers would vacate the building and instead move into the proposed new CBD retail block between Tay St and Esk St, although he conceded he hadn’t had any dialogue with Farmers to say they were on the move.

The concern has, however, prompted Mr Thompson to draw up plans which would see Farmers removed from the building which would become a mini-mall complex with about 15 tenants.

He said the plan was to target CBD businesses which would have to vacate the inner city block because of the demolition and redevelopment project.

Mr Thompson said he had now received an offer via a land agent to buy the building.

He was adamant the offer came from the organisation behind the CBD retail precinct plans, HWCP Ltd.

But HWCP director Scott O’Donnell told the Southland Express: “HWCP have not made an offer.”

HWCP is a joint venture between Invercargill City Property Ltd, owned by the Invercargill City Council’s Holdco, and HWR Property Ltd, part of the HW Richardson Group.

Mr Thompson said he declined to sell the Farmers building because he felt the offer was too low, although negotiations were likely to continue.

In the meantime, Mr Thompson said Pascoe Properties would continue the search for potential tenants for the proposed mall in the Farmers building.

In September, Mr Thompson told the Southland Express he did not believe Invercargill could sustain three mall-like complexes, including the Kmart development on Clyde St in the mix.

He said he wanted “to get ahead of the game” by setting up his own mall, which in turn would mean Farmers would have to vacate the site.

Mr Thompson put together one of the 42 submissions received by the Invercargill City Council on HWCP Ltd’s resource consent application for the CBD overhaul.

In his submission, Mr Thompson outlined what he believed were flaws in the project.

A major concern for Mr Thompson was the council’s involvement in the project. He felt the council was competing against commercial ratepayers, including himself.

“They are competing against other ratepayers for tenants, just as they have done with their Don St building, where all they have done is get [tenants] from elsewhere around town leaving vacant spaces there,” he said in the submission.

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