A development for a medical centre in Rotorua's eastern suburbs is one of four multi-million dollar projects breathing new life into the area.
The developers behind the east side projects say businesses are willing to invest in Te Ngae Rd since the Eastern Arterial route was scrapped but it is now more important than ever to get improvements made to the congested highway.
The Owhata Medical Centre will move from its current location at the Owhata Shopping Centre to a new premises on Te Ngae Rd, opposite Wharenui Rd, opening on August 1.
It will be next to a new FreshChoice supermarket that is taking shape and is set to open at the end of June.
Further up Te Ngae Rd, R&B Consultants has moved from its Lake Rd site to the former Verda premises and is developing the land behind to cater for a total of six tenants - four of which are already leased.
These new projects are on top of the Lynmore Junction development where several new businesses have, or are yet to, open.
Owhata Medical Centre developer Tony Bradley said the site, where a Z petrol station used to be, was the easiest project he had done.
"I was driving to Tauranga one day for a meeting and saw the land was for sale. Straight away I thought 'I know what I can put on there'. I rung them [Owhata Medical Centre] up and pretty much within four days it was a done deal."
He'd previously noticed the Owhata Shopping Centre had become "pretty tired" so the medical centre was his first thought.
Mr Bradley said the site included a neighbouring food premises, which he couldn't reveal because that business was yet to get board sign-off.
"Once [FreshChoice] opens, that whole area is going to be so much better ... that side of town is really tired. It's an untapped market and it's attracting good growth."
Dr John Armstrong said his medical centre was excited to move because it had outgrown the current site and had plans for future growth.
He said it currently had three fulltime doctors plus a house officer, registrar and medical student which meant having to "juggle the rooms" to fit everyone.
"I think this move will be great for the patients, we will have a pharmacy next door, greater parking, easier access and generally a nicer place to be."
Developer Wayne Parry is behind the FreshChoice supermarket development and will own the business with his wife, Michelle. It will be the 27th FreshChoice in New Zealand.
Mr Parry said he also had a site next to the supermarket that had been consented as a fast food business, however, he would concentrate on leasing that once the supermarket opened.
He said it was fantastic to see business progress along Te Ngae Rd.
"That's a result of the council having announced they are not going ahead with the bypass so businesses have the confidence to invest. But the upgrading of Te Ngae Rd needs to happen sooner rather than later."
The supermarket is on track to open at the end of June and will be open seven days a week from 7am to 9pm.
A total of 35 jobs had been advertised, with vacancies open until the end of today.
The Parrys were committed to employing locals where possible. Nearly 300 applications had been received and the store would be managed by the Parry's daughter-in-law, Paula.
Developer Ray Cook from R&B Consultants bought the 1.5ha Verda site on Te Ngae Rd in November after the business went into receivership. He was developing it to allow six new businesses, including his own which had already moved from Lake Rd.
He said he had three tenants already including Higgins Contracting, which was moving from Pururu St next month because the business was expanding, a new company called Redwood Joinery and a yet-to-be-named start-up timber company. All work will be completed by June.
"The Rotorua property market is steaming at present, but like our geysers they come and go."
Mr Cook said he too wanted to see some urgent action on Te Ngae Rd to allow new businesses and locals greater access into and out of the city.
"The New Zealand Transport Association and Rotorua Lakes Council need to stop talking about the traffic issues with Te Ngae Rd and get on with fixing them. We have all known for a long time that this is the growth area."
Lynmore Junction is also progressing well with stage two due for completion this month.
Developer Ryan Holmes said at the end of April three quarters of stage two was leased and included a specialist bakery, a licensed Turkish restaurant, Giovanni's Restaurant and Pizzeria, an Indian restaurant, gym Flex Fitness and a new dentist.
Stage two follows on from the success of neighbouring Motion Entertainment.
Stage three of Lynmore Junction is under construction and will be finished at the end of winter.
The Government announced a $24 million funding package for the central and eastern corridors in 2016. Last month the immediate priorities for Te Ngae Rd were announced.
The recommended option involves widening Te Ngae Rd to four lanes from Tarawera Rd to Iles Rd and putting in a solid median safety barrier. There will also be cycling and walking connections.
NZ Transport Agency Highways Manager, Niclas Johansson said there was a proposal to put in traffic lights at the Tarawera Rd intersection and give an alternative access to the Sala St intersection. The work will be carried out in a staged approach to start next year.
"While we understand people would like the work to start earlier there are statutory requirements, such as consenting and land purchases, that need to be worked through. We have received a lot of feedback and will take that in to account before announcing the final plan for the project in the next few months."
New business for Te Ngae Rd
- Owhata Medical Centre opening August 1 and yet to be named food premises
- FreshChoice supermarket opening end of June and yet to be found fast food outlet
- Lynmore Junction, stages one completed, stage two near completion, stage three to start in spring
- R&B Consultants development on former Verda site, six new tenants, completed in June