A cornerstone hotel development in Tauranga's CBD could be fast-tracked if the Tauranga City Council can be persuaded to underwrite or lease two floors of carparks.
The owner of Ray White Commercial in the downtown area, Philip Hunt, put the case for the council to invest or provide a financial guarantee.
He was speaking to the inaugural meeting of the council's transport committee that yesterday heard from a wide range of people with visions of how to solve the city's traffic issues.
Mr Hunt said negotiations were well advanced with a developer wanting to redevelop the 59-year-old former Tauranga Electric Power Board building on the corner of Spring St and Durham St.
He urged the council to consider underwriting or leasing two of the four storeys of carparks holding 100 cars on each level. It would leave two floors of carparks for guest and conference parking for a proposed 70-room hotel development.
Mr Hunt said the answer to revitalising the CBD was to fill up the first-floor office spaces above the shops.
And although he was "on a roll" with the number of leasing inquiries from businesses wanting to relocate to the CBD, the problem was a shortage of carparks.
"The situation is desperate."
Mr Hunt cited the case of Apata Packhouse and Coolstores' head office in 1st Ave. It wanted to bring more staff into town but because the staff were mobile and not sitting at a desk all day, they needed carparks.
He said a lot of consultants with offices in converted houses on Cameron Rd and the avenues were wanting to relocate to the downtown area.
A council commitment to underwrite the two floors of carparks meant the developer could begin the project sooner rather than wait six months or a year to get the numbers to make it fly, he said.
The carparks would form the basement of the building. Developers could have them all leased in a year unless the market stopped.
Mayor Greg Brownless questioned why the council needed to be the middle man. The developer could lease the carparks rather than the council taking the risk of underwriting two of the floors.
Mr Hunt said the difference was that it could take weeks rather than months for the project to begin.
The council should be providing incentives to get people into public transport rather than cars sitting in parking buildings from daylight to dark, he said. ''That is hamstringing the CBD.''
A consultant wanting to move into the CBD from 12th Ave needed carparking for four people, but the way things were, they may as well stay out in the avenues, he said.
Interviewed after the meeting, he said the developer was working with several parties to try to put together a cornerstone development in the CBD.
Mr Hunt said it was also giving the council the opportunity to alleviate an urgent problem by saying it would lease or underwrite the leasing of the two floors of carparks.
''The developer is ready to put a spade in the ground. We need this now,'' he said.
It was not the same developer that was issued consent for a 13-level international hotel building in 2015 on the same site.
The committee did not make a decision on the request.