Iconic building up for sale

Bayleys Dunedin real estate agent Robin Hyndman is trying 
Bayleys Dunedin real estate agent Robin Hyndman is trying to attract the attention of potential buyers for the Bell Tea Building. Photo by Dan Hutchinson

Bell Tea has shifted all its operations to Auckland and now its familiar Dunedin building is up for sale.

Bell Tea financial controller David McKeown said all four of its buildings - one in Dunedin and three in Auckland - had been put on the market.

The company stopped packaging tea in Dunedin earlier this year but is still processing in Auckland and will lease its buildings there once they have been sold.

Bayleys Dunedin real estate agent Robin Hyndman said the sale of the 90-year-old building was a ''commentary of what has happened to so much of Dunedin''.

''When this building was built in 1924, Bell Tea would have been packaging tea in there and employing people and they would have been selling the tea all around the country and then all the money would have been coming back.

''Seventy years goes by and the worm has turned and all the money is up in Auckland and there is nothing down here.''

He said the obvious use for the building was as apartments and there had been some interest since it was listed at the beginning of this week.

The reason Bell gave for shifting its processing and 10 jobs from the building was that it needed earthquake strengthening and other work done, estimated to cost $1 million.

Mr Hyndman said that over the past few years, many people had taken on some of Dunedin's ''challenging buildings'' and turned them around.

He said it had to make sense and the amount of money that could be spent buying and fixing the building would be determined by how much people were prepared to pay for the end product.

The building has been cleared of almost everything, although a very large blender is still there and the smell of tea leaves still lingers in the air. 

- by Dan Hutchinson

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