Council approves cafe idea

By John Cousins

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A cafe - which could possibly be housed in a caravan or a container- has been given the all-clear to be established beside the children's playground taking shape on Tauranga's downtown waterfront.

The city council yesterday agreed to call for expressions of interest from people wanting to run a food and beverage outlet on the 100sq m site.

Councillors were looking to attract interest ranging from a tasteful mobile shop to someone prepared to convert a container into a cafe. The lease would run for about two years.

The cafe would sit just to the left of the harbour view from Wharf St and was the next step in the council's plan to rejuvenate the downtown. It was hoped to get it up and running as soon as possible after the playground opened in July.

However no conclusions were reached on the potentially controversial issue of what sort of iconic, permanent retail development should be allowed on the 250sq m site that included the existing kiosk at the Spring St end of the waterfront.

Matt Haywood of De Bier Hause said he hoped that the playground, cafe and Hairy Maclary statues would attract a thousand people a week as it would boost business along The Strand.

"I have no objection to it bringing a lot of people."

He warned that retailers might not be so keen on the council's plan for a permanent waterfront development opposite Spring St.

Some of the councillors at yesterday's meeting balked at advice from City Centre project manager Duarne Lankshear that the lease for the land for the permanent building needed to be for 99 years if it was to attract someone prepared to risk investing in a high quality development. He said quality was expensive and expense required a long tenure.

Councillor Murray Guy said the council was nuts if it decided to go with a 99-year lease immediately. "You will get a strong community reaction."

The other option before the council was a 35-year lease with a 35-year right of renewal, but Cr David Stewart said they could not demand quality on a short-term lease.

But with the prospect the building would not happen for two years, the councillors who were urging caution on the lease won the day.

Councillor Wayne Moultrie said the issue had "morphed into something quite enormous" and he did not want to be bulldozed into making a decision when they had not even received a background paper.

"It should be subject to an issues and option paper."

Yesterday's workshop agreed to adjourn the issue until staff had prepared information for a future meeting.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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