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Buyers prepare to pull over as busy highway services hub goes up for sale

A landmark services hub that is a popular stop for drivers on one of New Zealand’s busiest highways has been put up for sale.

Situated beside State Highway 1 just south of the Bombay Hills, the service centre at Mercer provides petrol, refreshments and public toilets for thousands of motorists on the busy Auckland-Hamilton route.

The property for sale at 16 Horace Russell Road, Mercer, is anchored by blue-chip tenants Mobil and McDonalds plus local gourmet favourite Pokeno Bacon, generating a diversified net rental income of approximately $535,000 plus GST per annum.

The freehold land and buildings at the Mercer site are now being marketed for sale by Deadline Private Treaty closing on 3 December (if not sold prior) through Bayleys Real Estate.

Salespeople Damian Stephen, Michael Nees, Josh Smith and Chris Bayley said the commercial buildings for sale had a total gross floor area of approximately 1,625 square metres on a site of over 2.3 hectares with plenty of parking.

Fuel giant Mobil pays rent of $342,870 plus GST per annum for its service station and truck-stop premises of some 277 square metres. Its current lease extends through to 2029, with two further 10-year rights of renewal.

McDonald’s occupies 265 square metres, paying $100,000 plus turnover rent and GST per annum on a lease running through to 2022, with a further five-year right of renewal.

Some 146 square metres is occupied by Pokeno Bacon, which operates a diner on a lease generating annual rent of $75,000 plus turnover rent and GST. Its lease runs through to 2028, with a further eight-year right of renewal.

Other tenants include an Esquires Coffee outlet, a pizzeria and fish and chip shop. Waikato District Council also pays some $16,000 a year to enable the public to use the centre’s bathrooms.

Mr Stephen said the Mercer site benefited enormously from its busy roadside location on the doorstep of the Auckland region. Sitting just 10 kilometres south of the Bombay Hills, its services were easily accessed by southbound and northbound traffic.

“Adding to its popularity is its status as the last place northbound drivers can fuel up without having to pay the Auckland regional fuel tax,” he said.

“This property will be instantly recognisable to the thousands of motorists who pass each day, many of whom take the opportunity to pull over for petrol, food and drink, or for a rest and general ‘comfort stop’,” said Mr Stephen.

Mr Nees said the site received a further boost this year with the opening of the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway.

“This new route bypasses Huntly town centre, which has historically provided competing service amenity for Auckland-Hamilton traffic. This has boosted demand for services at Mercer and led to a significant lift in turnover for existing tenants,” said Mr Nees

“With a generous landholding available at the Mercer site, this new market opportunity adds to the potential for a new owner to explore further development and new tenancies for additional income.

“For example, big-brand food outlets in Huntly, such as KFC, Domino’s Pizza and Subway, are no longer ‘on the way’ for through-motorists. These could present complementary future tenancy options alongside the existing food offerings at Mercer,” Mr Nees said.

Larger motorway service hubs overseas often extended to mini supermarkets and bookshops, games arcades and charging points for electric vehicles.

Mr Smith said a large parcel of land of some 1,300 square metres beside the main car park on the western side of the property offered ample space to develop new service offerings.

“There is also potential to upgrade site signage and branding to capitalise to the full from the high-profile highway exposure,” Mr Smith said.

The property at 16 Horace Russell Road is zoned Commercial (8A) under Waikato District Council’s district plan, allowing for a range of commercial activities.

Neighbouring properties at Mercer present a diverse offering, including a tavern and motel, along with a craft cheese outlet, Mercer Adventure Jet, two rowing clubs, a fire station and a showroom for ‘tiny house’-maker Breezepod.

Mr Bayley said the Mercer site for sale sat strategically almost exactly halfway between Auckland and Hamilton, whose city centres lie approximately 60 kilometres in each direction.

“It is also less than 10 minutes’ drive from the booming township of Pokeno, whose current population of around 2,000 is expected to triple to as much as 7,000 in the next 10 to 15 years,” said Mr Bayley.

“A host of new businesses are choosing Pokeno for their next venture, including a new dairy factory and a new supermarket coming to the area soon.”

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