A former riding school, wedding and ceremony venue – turned research headquarters for a high-tech agricultural biotechnology company – has been put on the market for sale.
The property and buildings housing the laboratories and research facilities for a new rural science company, Ecolibrium Biologicals, are located in Bombay, south of Auckland, on approximately 18.55 hectares.
The substantial property was originally developed as a kiwifruit orchard in the early 1980s when its owners built a three-bedroom house and converted an old cowshed and building that later became an equestrian center and school.
The venue’s infrastructure was expanded in the early 1990s when it was built as a riding school lodge, later becoming a wedding venue – known as the Footbridge, with its own on-site chapel, allowing weddings to take place on site.
Equipped with a commercial kitchen, restaurant and licensed bar, the venue operated successfully under the Footbridge business model. In 2001, approval was granted to create an on-site equestrian research facility, and an American-style barn was added to support operations at the site.
Ten years later, approval was granted for the construction of five separate residential buildings for the use of guests and the accommodation of venue staff. In 2014, another approval was granted to convert the property into an agricultural biotechnology research facility.
The property was subsequently leased to Ecolibrium Biologicals, a New Zealand owned and operated rural research company. Working with leading private food production research companies and universities in New Zealand, Ecolibrium Biologicals’ is developing new biological pesticides, known as bioprotectants, for use as an alternative to traditional agrochemical pesticides in the rural production sector. The company markets its products and IP globally.
The independent research center site, buildings and staff accommodation complex at 59 Chamberlain Road, Bombay is now up for sale by tender through Bayleys Pukekohe, with tenders closing on 8 September. Sales staff Ben Jameson and Shona Brown say the property is a chance for investors to engage with a little-known part of New Zealand’s deep tech sector.
“The work done by Ecolibrium Biologicals is world-leading and the property in Bombay supports the company’s efforts at all levels – from staff accommodation to the delivery of state-of-the-art research facilities,” said Jameson.
“Various infrastructural components, including the former hospitality and food and beverage elements of the property, have been strategically repositioned to support Ecolibrium Biologicals’ business activities, and ongoing renovations will add rental value for years to come.”
A complete inventory of building infrastructure in the estate includes:
• At the heart of Ecolibrium Biological’s research center is a 220 square meter horse stable converted into a scientific laboratory, with many small rooms dedicated to special research activities
• The former 326 square meter lodge conference center and wedding venue has been converted into a research laboratory and offices, complete with an adjoining 127 square meter one-storey two-bedroom apartment and a pair of electric car charging points.
• A 144 square meter American-style warehouse that has been partially converted into a laboratory area
• A 181 square meter three-bedroom, two-story house is currently being renovated to be used as staff accommodation.
• A pair of 86 square meter two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartments with private kitchens and laundry facilities.
• An indoor warehouse of about 116 square meters is currently being converted into an insectarium – a living insect zoo used for the breeding and rearing of insects used as part of laboratory experiments.
• A 75 square meter non-consecrated and non-denominational parish church building, once used for wedding ceremonies and now used for meetings and promotional functions
• Partially completed covered 100 square meter workshop and equipment storage
• Auxiliary storage buildings and shed.
The facility also has its own water purification and filtration plant and four 30,000-liter storage tanks for potable laboratory water through carbon filters and a UV system. Water is drawn from the stream below the pond in the facility.
Ecolibrium Biologicals currently leases the operational parts of the property that continue to operate the business – such as converted stables/research center, warehouse, insectarium, lodge and lodge housing. The lease does not include the main residence or the two chalets, which are currently vacant and uninhabitable due to renovations.
On the lodge part of the property, a colonial-style one-level Queenslander building is weatherboarded and surrounded by a wrap-around patio and porch and ample chip-sealed parking.
The outdoor patio adds about 260 square meters to the total area of the building. The topography of the property consists of several terraces cut into the sloping part of the plot, with the balance outside the land in bushland, ponds and meadows.
The current owner has an application before Auckland Council to subdivide the existing block into two titles. Located at 59 Chamberlain Road in Bombay, approximately 46 kilometers south of central Auckland, the property is zoned under the Auckland Council residential village plan.
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