By this time next year, the first buildings could be going up in Wanaka's single-biggest commercial and residential development.
After more than 10 years of planning, Willowridge managing director Allan Dippie is set to crank up civil construction work this year on his 112ha Three Parks development south of the Wanaka Golf Course.
The central feature of the subdivision will be 17ha of commercial land available for retail outlets ranging from a supermarket and ``bulk goods retailers'' to cafes and specialty stores.
There is also provision for a petrol station, campground, school, lifestyle village, serviced apartments and sports facilities.
Dippie told the Otago Daily Times this week he already had several expressions of interest in commercial sites from existing Wanaka and ``new-to-Wanaka'' businesses and some contracts had been signed.
''[We] have a large range of business types that wish to establish from commercial and service businesses requiring light industrial land through to retail operators.
``We also have some specialist businesses requiring specialist activity sites, for example service stations.''
Dippie said Willowridge was looking for expressions of interest from businesses wanting to develop ``local tourist orientated activities''.
``Three Parks has a zone for such activities and I would like to see more attractions for both locals and tourists.
``The potential is enormous and I've been busy lately looking at new ideas that local people could bring to the town.''
Dippie likened the commercial part of the Three Parks development to Remarkables Park at Frankton, except that it would have a ``Main St'' running through the centre rather than a car park.
Asked about opposition to ``big box'' retail development in some parts of New Zealand and overseas, Dippie said the ``person in the street'' would welcome more retail competition and a greater range of products.
He expected the development would make Wanaka ``much more self-reliant'' in goods and services ``rather than the large amount of business that is done out of town, by necessity rather than choice, at present''.
``This will help Wanaka become a less expensive and more convenient place to live.''
A total of 800 to 1000 houses are planned for the development but Dippie said getting them to the market was not the first priority and he emphasised the ``long-term'' nature of the project.
``We have a large amount of residential extensions to our existing subdivision projects at both West Meadows and Meadowstone under way at present which is keeping us busy.''
Dippie said a lot of infrastructure services for Three Parks were already in place and earthworks had started at the Ballantyne Rd end of the site for stage one of the development in an area referred to as the ``business subzone''.
Stage two would see progress on the bulk retail and other specialist business activities.
``That will commence in 2015,'' Dippie said.
Significant progress would be made this year on a new road linking Ballantyne Rd and SH6, opposite Mt Iron at the entrance to Wanaka, he said.
One of the priorities was to finish building a road and constructing services to land where the Queenstown Lakes District Council plans to build a sports complex.
``We have an agreement in place with council to do this and it's a priority,'' Dippie said.
He expected the sports and facilities complex to include an aquatic centre and he believed it would grow as time went by.
Over the next 10 years, Dippie said Three Parks would become a ``fully integrated community'' in the Upper Clutha.
``There will be a large amount of people both living and working within Three Parks.''
Dippie expected the development would create construction and permanent jobs ``and the wider benefits will flow through to the wider community.
``The existing town centre will have been allowed to retain its charm and be extra special,'' he said.