Mount Maunganui retail space is tighter than ever. Just ask Barney Tizzard, who searched for almost a year before finding a home for his aptly named Shoebox repair and key-cutting business in a partitioned-off stairwell recess on Maunganui Rd.
"My lawyer said it was the smallest tenancy he'd ever signed up," said Mr Tizzard, who began his hunt in early 2015 and this month celebrates his first year in operation in the 2.4m x 4.8m space.
"It's very hard to find shops at the moment," he said. "I'd been up and down that street so many times."
Ray White commercial and industrial specialist Michael McMichael spotted the opportunity at 197 Maunganui Rd and worked with the landlord to create a kiosk-sized unit out of the stairwell area leading to the office space above. The building's shop frontage includes Temptations.
"For Barney, we had to almost create something out of nothing. We were trying to find him some space and at the same time the landlord was trying to work out what to do with his entranceway to the office above."
Ray White worked with the landlord to create a partitioned-off unit that met council building and safety regulations, with approvals taking three months or so.
It was uniquely suitable for the shoe repair/key-cutting operation as Mr Tizzard did not require water to operate the business, said Mr McMichael. "We turned a space that was basically being used as a toilet on a Saturday night into a shop which generates income for the landlord."
Mr Tizzard, who previously had a Mr Minute franchise at Bayfair, said the solution had worked perfectly for him and was cheaper than being in a mall. "It was really a smart move," he said. "Had I not talked to Michael I would probably not have been able to do it."
Mr McMichael said space at the Mount had been very tight for the past couple of years.
Bayleys branch manager Dickie Burman said Mount retail space was generally hotly contested.
"You've got a lot of smallish shops there and they're tightly held," he said. "It's been that way for a long time. Generally supply does not meet demand in the retail sector. There's not much new stuff coming in there at the moment."
Bayleys currently has two tenanted shop-front buildings up for auction next week and agent Brendon Bradley said the Mount always commanded really strong interest.
"It's quite tightly held and properties don't come up that often. The Mount generally tends to be an area for retail where demand constantly exceeds supply and there is a waiting list of people that want to get in there."
Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming said she had someone coming in at least once a week wanting retail space. However, space would be coming up in the new Mount Central development which will be completed by the end of the year. (See factbox below)
Mount Mainstreet currently has more than 200 businesses, drawn from the Maunganui Rd areas between Prince Ave and Grove Ave.
"But I'd like to grow that in future - that's one of the projects I have on my list. There are businesses that are very close to [the main area], but not actually members. It would be nice to encompass the businesses that are outlying Mount Mainstreet."
However, Bayley's Mr Burman noted that it was the central area of the Mount that was in high demand.
"The more centralised you can keep the retail area the better," he said, adding that one of the factors contributing to the comparatively flat demand in Tauranga was that the retail area had become too spread out.
"The CBD is much the same as it has been for quite some time - there are a few empty shops. Some of those will be because of age, and some will be because the demand for CBD Tauranga is not that flash."
But retail tenancy demand in most major centres was relatively flat, he said.
"The Mount is quite niche. It's a beach place and a lot of people live there permanently now. People like going shopping there and they go for a walk around the Mount and then stay to have a coffee. And the parking is better than in the CBD."
Space coming in Mount Central
Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming says that while demand for retail property remains high, there is rental space coming up in the new Mount Central development.
The 1315 sq m development and carpark on the corner of Maunganui Rd and Banks Ave is made up of two new single-level retail buildings connected with a canopy, and features the use of unique claddings and different-height roof levels to provide a varied streetscape.
Colliers International is marketing the property now, and it is expected to be completed for occupancy by December.
Mrs Fleming said Mount Central would facilitate new opportunities for retailers and would also include a restaurant / café.