Projects in pipeline mean big year ahead

By Rebecca Malcolm

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NEW LEASE OF LIFE: One of Rotorua's oldest buildings is set to get a revamp.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE: One of Rotorua's oldest buildings is set to get a revamp.

This year is shaping up to be another big one for Rotorua - with several major developments already announced and plenty of big events returning to lure visitors to the city.

By the end of the year, Rotorua is expected to be home to a state-of-the-art retirement village which will be the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific area, as well as New Zealand's largest all-weather entertainment type venue.

Both Whare Aroha CARE's new dementia village at Ngongotaha and Lynmore Junction, which includes Motion Entertainment, are expected to open by the end of the year.

The two major projects have been in the pipeline for some time.

Several other big projects are planned this year, including several new accommodation facilities for Rotorua.

One of Rotorua's oldest buildings, The Lakehouse Hotel built in 1870, is set to be transformed into a 250-bed upmarket "spa hostel".

It comes after an agreement between Pukeroa Oruawhata Group and The Friendly Group, owners of the award-winning Greenhouse Backpackers & Jazz Hostels, for the establishment of Greenhouse Rotorua.

The facility aims to provide good quality hostel accommodation together with a "unique geothermal bathing experience".

Pukeroa Oruawhata Group is also pushing ahead with plans for a major redevelopment of Rotorua's lakefront likely to include a five-star hotel and spa complex which is being dubbed as one of the biggest developments seen in years and could create up to 400 jobs.

Plans are also in the pipeline for a 100-bedroom hotel in Koutu, subject to resource consent, as well as transforming the Zen Centre into a hotel while Red Stag is continuing its investment and upgrades.

Deputy mayor Dave Donaldson said as well as the projects already announced he was aware of some other projects under way that were likely to come to fruition in 2016.

He said there was also a big year of events coming up, which all helped to inject cash into Rotorua's economy.

Mr Donaldson said having the TRENZ conference return was a big coup.

The conference, which was New Zealand's biggest international tourism and accommodation event, injected $2 million into the economy last year.

Mr Donaldson said there was plenty of events to attract visitors to Rotorua and keep locals busy.

He described the Tulip Festival, which will return next spring, as the "quiet improver" and said the second time around was attracting plenty of interest from around New Zealand and the world.

"It's a huge year for our economy and our visitor economy makes a big contribution to that," Mr Donaldson said.

"These events give locals plenty to do and the other benefit is the sell Rotorua. People come because we are good at staging events and go away and take great stories with them, upload photos on to social media.

"They're all having fun and selling Rotorua."

Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said they were seeing a lot of confidence from businesses and plenty of growth and with several big developments planned he expected that to continue.

"Businesses are very confident and very positive," he said.

"They're all seeing growth."

He said developments like Motion Entertainment at Lynmore Junction, the work Pukeroa Oruawhata was carrying out and the development in the timber processing area through Red Stag and Lumbercube were all positive signs for Rotorua.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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