Papamoa plaza expansion welcomed

By Amy McGillivray

Joel Shadbolt.
Joel Shadbolt.

The multi-million dollar expansion of Papamoa's Palm Beach Plaza is being welcomed by residents and businesses.

Locals hoped the changes would save them making the trip to Bayfair, while businesses expected the growth to bring more customers.

Papamoa resident Joel Shadbolt, 23, said it was fantastic for the community.

"I think it will be cool. To have more variety of shops I think will be great," he said.

Mr Shadbolt said he rarely went to Bayfair but was hopeful the expansion would see more clothing shops move into the plaza. "It's better for the Papamoa community to just walk around the corner."

Stage one of the expansion programme, a new entranceway and facade, would begin next month and was expected to be finished by November.

The upgrade would include 6000sq m-plus of retail space, speciality stores, a food court and a total refit of the plaza.

Skoops Ice Cream Bar owner Sue Rowlinson agreed the expansion was good for the area, although she was still unsure what it would mean for her.

"It's got to be good for Papamoa," she said. "It is a positive move. I am positive."

Ms Rowlinson was still waiting to hear exactly how the existing tenants would be affected and what the plaza would look like.

"We've been told there are to be businesses that will be moved," she said. "I'd like to stay. It's a cost thing. What they have told us is that if any of us have to be moved it's at our cost."

Papamoa Pizza Hut store manager Milan Patel said the expansion would give shoppers and businesses owners a lot more options.

"It helps everybody. I don't think Papamoa people will need to go towards Tauranga or Bayfair, which they used to because there weren't many options."

Centre manager of neighbouring shopping complex Fashion Island Jill McKenzie was also in favour of the expansion of Palm Beach Plaza and said none of the existing tenants had expressed interest in moving there.

"We see it as a positive move for Papamoa, more retail means more customers to the area," she said.

Camping and Outdoors and the $2 Shop at Palm Beach Plaza were holding closing-down sales and would not be part of the new centre.

Camping and Outdoors branch manager Sharnel Darrah said the Papamoa store was closing at the end of the month but was hoping to find a new Papamoa location.

"It is a bit of a blow. It's not honestly by choice. It's just been made exceptionally hard for us to stay. I know there has been a rent increase," she said. "We would love to have a Papamoa presence anywhere. Papamoa needs a store like ours."

Ms Darrah had been at the branch since it opened in 2006 and was sad to see it go.

"We've made it through the recession and the Rena. It's actually really, really sad. I'm gutted."

The $2 Shop in Palm Beach Plaza was closing on July 20, manager Belinda Reid said.

"The rent's too high. If we were a multi-priced shop like others it might be OK," she said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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