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Agricultural biotech’ research centre for sale goes under the microscope with property investors

The property and buildings housing the laboratories and research facilities for ground-breaking rural science company Ecolibrium Biologicals is located in Bombay just south of Auckland, and sits on some 18.55-hectares of land.

The substantial property was originally developed as a kiwifruit orchard in the early 1980s when its owners built a three-bedroom home, while simultaneously converting an old cow shed and building which were later developed into an equestrian riding centre & school.

The venue’s infrastructure was expanded in the early 1990s when a lodge was constructed as a riding school lodge, which later morphed into a wedding reception venue – known as Footbridge, with its own chapel on site, allowing wedding ceremonies to be held on-site.

Fitted out with a commercial kitchen, restaurant, and licensed bar, the venue successfully operated under the Footbridge business model. In 2001, consent was granted for development of an equine research facility onsite, and an American-style barn was added to underpin activity in that area.

A decade later, consent was granted to build five separate accommodation units for use by guests and to accommodate venue staff. In 2014, another consent was granted to convert the property into an agricultural biotechnology research facility.

The property was subsequently leased to ground-breaking New Zealand-owned and operated rural research company Ecolibrium Biologicals. Working in conjunction with New Zealand’s leading private food production research companies and universities, Ecolibrium Biologicals' develops novel biological pesticides known as bioprotectants for use in the rural production sector as alternatives to traditional agri’-chemical pesticides. The company markets its products and IP globally.

Now the self-contained research hub land, buildings, and staff accommodation complex at 59 Chamberlain Road in Bombay are being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Pukekohe, with tenders closing on September 8. Salespeople Ben Jameson and Shona Brown said the property offered the chance for investors to be involved with a little-known part of New Zealand’s deep tech sector.

“The work being undertaken by Ecolibrium Biologicals is world-leading, and the property at Bombay supports the company’s endeavours at all levels – from accommodating staff through to delivering state-of-the-art research facilities,” said Jameson.

“Various infrastructure components of what were the previous hospitality and food and beverage elements to the property have been strategically converted to support Ecolibrium Biologicals’ business activities, with ongoing remodelling work adding further value to the tenancy in the years to come.”

The full inventory of building infrastructure on the property includes:

• A 220-square metre horse stable converted into a scientific laboratory at the heart of Ecolibrium Biological’s research hub, with multiple smaller rooms allocated to specific research activities
• The former 326-square metre lodge conference centre and wedding venue converted into a research laboratory and offices, complete with an adjoining 127-square metre single-storey two-bedroom apartment and a pair of electric vehicle charging points
• A 144-square metre American-style barn partially converted into laboratory space
• A 181-square metre three-bedroom two-storey home currently undergoing renovation with the intention of being utilised as staff accommodation
• A pair of 86-square metre two-bedroom/two-bathroom accommodation chalets with their own kitchen and laundry amenities used as staff dwellings
• An enclosed shed of approximately 116-square metres currently being converted into an insectarium - a live insect zoo used for breeding and rearing insects used as part of the laboratory experiments
• An unconsecrated and non-denominational 75-square metre church chapel building once used for weddings and now utilised for meetings and presentation functions
• A partly completed enclosed 100-square metre workshop and implement shed
• Ancillary storage buildings and shedding.

The venue also has its own water treatment and filtration plant and four 30,000-litre storage tanks – delivering potable laboratory grade water through carbon filters and UV system. Water is pumped from a stream below a pond on the property.

Ecolibrium Biologicals has a lease on functioning parts of the property currently sustaining its business activities – such as the converted stables/research hub, barn, insectary, lodge, and apartment in the lodge. The lease currently does not cover the main dwelling which is vacant, and uninhabitable as it is currently undergoing renovation, or the two chalets.

The lodge portion of the property features a colonial style single-level Queenslander building made with weatherboard and encircled by a wrap-around verandah and balcony and an extensive chip-sealed carpark.

The outdoor verandah adds some 260-square metres to the building’s overall footprint. The property’s topography comprises several terraces cut into the sloping portion of the landholding, with the balance off the land in bush, pond, and paddocks.

The current owner has an application before Auckland Council to subdivide the existing block into two titles. Located some 46-kilometres south of Central Auckland, the property at 59 Chamberlain Road in Bombay is zoned rural countryside living under the Auckland Council plan.

Click here for more information on the listing.

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