A new high-density residential development is proposed to be built on a prime 1.4ha block of land in Tauranga's harbourside suburb of Bureta.
A conditional contract has been taken out on the site owned by Australian retail giant Progressive Enterprises, which built the neighbouring Countdown supermarket. The site was too small for a retirement village.
Colliers International, which marketed the site for Progressive, said the contract had a fairly long period of due diligence to allow the potential buyer to obtain consent from the council.
Colliers' Tauranga managing director Simon Clark said consent was needed before the developer could go to the market with the residential sites.
He said most developers had a time period before contracts went unconditional while they figured out what they wanted on the property, followed by certainty on the sale of the sites.
Confidentiality provisions meant he could not name the buyer, except to say it was a New Zealand company that had done other developments in Tauranga.
Vale St neighbour Neal Butt said they had hoped it would be a residential development. The interesting thing would be to see if the council agreed to access off Ngatai Rd, and how many of the trees would be felled to accommodate the units.
Considering the high value of the land, he was not surprised that a high-density development was proposed. He expected an upmarket development because of the price paid for the land in a sought-after location close to town and harbour.
The land comprised 44 per cent of the total site purchased by Progressive Enterprises four years ago from the Perry Charitable Trust.
Ngatai Rd neighbour Nancy Betts said they would simply have to live with the development, although she was concerned about what high-density would mean: "I don't want a three-storey unit just behind my back fence."
Mrs Betts said she would rather it was an upmarket development but wondered what impact up to 86 new homeowners would have on Pillans Point School, which was already struggling to cope with the influx of new students.
Eighty-six was the number of units proposed in the previous mixed-use consent granted to Perry Developments six years ago for the whole 3.2ha site.
She said the land also had drainage issues: "It is going to cost them to fix it. I don't think the infrastructure could handle a high-density development."
Mrs Betts was also concerned about safety if access to Ngati Rd was allowed because of the big volumes of traffic streaming around the corner less than the width of two sections away.
Mayor Stuart Crosby said the council had never considered buying the land and adding it to the neighbouring reserve. He supported a high-density development: "It is where we are going with the city."
The council had not received an application for resource consent on the land, which included a number of large trees many people mistakenly assumed were part of the reserve.
Colliers' marketing campaign involved the preferred party being selected on the basis that the end use complemented the supermarket. Colliers broker Duncan Woodhouse said the potential buyer was seeking the density to achieve the right returns while Progressive was looking at a development that would be the right neighbour for the supermarket: "They wanted it as pure residential."
Features of Bureta development block:
* Size: 14,265sq m.
* Location: Between Countdown supermarket and a council reserve.
* Zoning: Residential.