Deal reached for supermarket

By John Cousins

Bureta Trust bar owner Kevin Fraser has been told he has to vacate his bar by November 27. Photo: Joel Ford
Bureta Trust bar owner Kevin Fraser has been told he has to vacate his bar by November 27. Photo: Joel Ford

Settlement has been reached for the development of a new Countdown supermarket, creating more than 100 jobs on the prime Bureta Park Motor Inn site in Tauranga.

It leaves the disgruntled operators of the hotel and bars with fewer than three months before they have to be off the site.

A spokesman for the supermarket chain said everything had been settled between Countdown, residents and city council.

The settlement was reached after Countdown owner Progressive Enterprises failed to win approval to build the $20 million supermarket and appealed to the Environment Court. Mediation hearings followed in May, at which the issues were negotiated and a consent order issued, which meant the appeal did not need to go to a full hearing of the court.

The spokesman said they were aiming to start construction as quickly as possible, hopefully in January, but they needed to prepare the site first.

The consent document was circulating around the parties to the appeal before it would go to the court for a final order.

Motor inn general manager Jill Priest said she was not happy about the November 27 lease termination date, even though they knew it would eventually happen. They received notice six months earlier, on May 27.

"The timing is not great. Christmas is the biggest time of the year for us."

Although all bookings prior to May were on the basis that they could not be confirmed until six months before the event, a wedding couple gambled and lost that Bureta Park would still be operating by Christmas.

Her biggest problem had been people thinking the hotel had already closed. "People are walking in and asking when the auction would be."

The operator of the bars, Kevin Fraser, said Progressive had been playing Russian roulette with its termination notices.

He was dumbfounded when he received his termination notice in May because it anticipated that the mediation process would find in favour of Countdown. Three months had passed and a consent order had still not been issued by the Environment Court.

"When I was given my notice, I thought 'they are very confident'," he said. In the meantime, until the final order was issued, Mr Fraser was sticking to the position that his leaseholder rights were stronger than Progressive's ownership because the early termination of his lease had to be for the purpose of redeveloping the land.

He understood that Progressive wanted to secure consent and get started on the project as quickly as possible, so that the foundation works for the supermarket would be in place by next winter. This was because of the high groundwater levels in Bureta.

Mr Fraser was disappointed that the new shops fronting Bureta Rd would not include a bar and gaming lounge, because he would have had the first rights of refusal.

The Mill bottlestore will be a tenant in the shops on Bureta Rd.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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