The growing community of Bethlehem East will get its own shopping centre soon - that is, if developer Bob Thorne is successful in his next endeavour.
Mr Thorne has already built and sold more than 280 houses in the area over the past 15 years and believes the time is right to bring retail outlets to the new community.
His plans for the $2.5 million Ridge Plaza complex, released less than two weeks ago, show seven retail suites, 28 carparks and competitive rental prices.
LJ Hooker's special projects consultant John Friis, who is handling the marketing of the tenancies on behalf of Mr Thorne, said retailers had been quick to register an interest in the development.
"Of the seven available retail outlets, in the space of 48 hours we had firm commitments on four of them."
Mr Friis said the strong interest was partially due to the location of the site, with Millers Rd attracting high traffic flows as an alternate entrance to Bethlehem.
In addition, many retailers in Tauranga were leasing old, dated buildings and were keen to move into new, modern premises, he said.
Finally, Ridge Plaza was able to offer competitive tenancy rates when compared to bigger retail complexes.
"It's around $185 a sq m for a brand spanking new premise, off-road parking, excellent address and high traffic flow.
"Comparable rentals in some of the major retail complexes are well over $300 a sq m," he said.
Retailers who had so far expressed interest in the complex included a real estate company, a superette, a boutique liquor outlet, a restaurant and coffee lounge, pizza chains and a hot bread shop.
Mr Thorne was planning to distribute a flyer to local home-owners inviting their feedback on potential tenants at the complex, but Mr Friis hastened to add they will not be considering a pub.
The shop sizes range from 100sq m to 235sq m, he said.
"But the beauty of securing an opportunity prior to building is we do have the ability to actually adjust the building to suit specific clients should they require it."
The complex would feature large glass frontages and a large facade along the top to give tenants "extreme visual exposure", Mr Friis said.
Building would begin as soon as a sufficient number of contracts are signed.
"We'd like to think that in maybe six to eight months it will be up and running," he said.
The site for the complex sits in front of a childcare centre, also built by Mr Thorne, and is surrounded by the first three stages of the Thorne Group's Urban Ridge subdivision.
The Thorne Group had plans to build another 85 houses, over two stages, at Urban Ridge.