Les and Jan McGill look at the restored brewery tower and the Industrial Village after a massive repair job to repair the roof and remove asbestos after a storm last year.
Les and Jan McGill look at the restored brewery tower and the Industrial Village after a massive repair job to repair the roof and remove asbestos after a storm last year. Adam Hourigan

Sellers of iconic industrial village want a local buyer

AN ICONIC Grafton landmark that has dominated the skyline of the Jacaranda City for almost 70 years goes under the hammer tomorrow.

The Grafton Industrial Village on the site of the old Grafton Brewery complex has not produced a drop of the amber liquid since it closed as a brewery in 1997, but in the intervening decades it has morphed into a vital commercial hub with more than 60 businesses operating within the 5.8ha site.

The site's owners and managers, Les and Jan McGill, have created an earnings powerhouse with annual income of $976,000, representing a return of 8 per cent or better, since they took on the site in 2007, just before the Global Financial Crisis.

But for MrMcGill, who said the suddenly discovered need for a pacemaker in his heart was the sole motivation for the sale, it was the potential for expansion that made the site so attractive.

"We've got 21,000sqm under roof with the potential to add an 10,000 to 12,000sqm to bring us up 100 per cent occupancy,” MrMcGill said.

"That would easily add half-a-million (dollars) to earnings.”

Despite the GFC and a couple of hailstorms that caused extensive damage, MrMcGill said the site was in its best shape.

"The GFC was a worry until we realised when things start to get tough for businesses they want places to store things until business improves,” he said.

"That's when we decided to push into storage space and that become 50 per cent of our business.”

Mr McGill now jokes about the hailstorm in December2017 that ravaged the site, causing about $3million damage.

The repairs allowed him to strip out all the asbestos in the walls and roofs of the site's 15 buildings, leaving it totally clean.

And he said the installation of 100kW of solar panels on the roof would give businesses a potential 10 per cent reduction in their power bills.

"We've estimated the panels could provide up to 50 per cent of the daytime power for the site,” he said.

Mr McGill said the property goes up for auction in Sydney tomorrow with commercial property agents Cushman & Wakefield.

He said the sale had been delayed due to complications preparing the 880-page contract governing the site.

"We put the sale back a week so the contract could be finished in time,” he said.

Despite this complication, MrMcGill said that about 50 information memorandums had been sent out.

"We know of two local bidders at least,” he said. "We would really love to see the complex stay in local hands.”

He said there was no fixed reserve on the property, but the intention to sell was strong.

"We've recently had the site valued,” he said. "We've got a good idea of its worth, so we're not going to do anything silly,” he said.



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