Tauranga's growing retirement sector helped boost the building boom last month when consents reached $54.5 million - the best January since records began, new figures show.
Builders expect 2016 to continue on a high note as demand continued to outstrip supply despite a shortage of qualified tradesmen. In 2015 total consent values climbed to $678 million - another record which elevated confidence, business leaders said.
We are still feeling the benefit from people moving here from Auckland and coming back home from overseas.
Data from the Tauranga City Council revealed it processed 174 consents in January 2016 valued at $54,538,082 compared to 152 consents worth $47,997,541 in January 2015 - the highest January value since records began.
One of the largest commercial consents issued was for 16 two-bedroom apartments at Althorp Village, valued at $4.5m.
Manager Claire Neshat said the Garden Apartments were the last phase to be completed at the lifestyle village which was currently home to about 270 residents.
"We are really excited as the Garden Apartments will complement the rest of the village and our resort style facilities will be enhanced by the addition of a water feature, secret garden and scented garden walkway."
The retirement industry had experienced fantastic growth, "that will continue for quite some years so it is great to see Tauranga is proactive in that aspect".
There was a demand at the moment for desirable housing for retirees, she said.
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Tauranga Chamber Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said it was a case of "Bay businesses making hay while the sun is shining".
That was especially prevalent in the housing industry, he said and the city was poised for more growth.
"We are still feeling the benefit from people moving here from Auckland and coming back home from overseas.
"The retirement industry is obviously part of this growth opportunity - but it's not the only industry that's shining at the moment; and Tauranga can justifiably claim to have many strings to its bow these days. And it's a place that is getting more and more attention and profile not only here in New Zealand but internationally as well."
Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said retirees were able to sell their homes in Auckland and still have some money left over to fund their lifestyles.
"The retirees [who] are moving here will shop here and use local services, thus also adding to economic growth."
She said the spike in building consents was great for the economy and "is a result of the confidence of investors in both in the commercial and residential sectors".
"We believe this growth is more sustainable than that of other periods of growth that the city has experienced in the last 30 or so years as there has also been strong job growth from businesses expanding and also businesses relocating here from other areas. "Over a number of quarters in 2015 we topped the country for job growth as the city's competitive advantages as a place from which to do business and to work are increasingly being recognised."
Master Builders Association Tauranga president Johnny Calley said said it was fantastic news for the industry with building expected to carry on into the foreseeable future.
The construction industry was a huge employer but there was a shortage of qualified and capable tradesmen, he said.
Mr Calley also hoped council would put more resources into processing consents faster because "that has become an issue for the building industry".
Watts and Hughes Construction, construction director Mark Gutry said the Tauranga market was extremely buoyant and it had enjoyed significant growth over the past 12 months.