Stage one of a $20 million redevelopment of Papamoa Plaza is on track, with a food court and two new stores set to open today creating 52 new jobs.
Papamoa Plaza manager David Hill said the project had progressed faster than expected and seven food outlets would open their doors.
Double-Teaspoons had also been redesigned so it would open out on to the food court.
Mr Hill said Spark Papamoa and Omnitech would also open their doors today, while Acquisitions, a unique giftware store that would branch into Tauranga for the first time, was set to open next week.
Inside the food court area there was table seating for 370 people plus a cabana-style seating area for an extra 24 diners.
Mr Hill said the major revamp also included a village green and outside amphitheatre seating for 40 patrons in a 250sq m area which would provide sufficient performance space to hold concerts and events.
Work on an artificial grass-lined children's play area was also under way, he said.
There would be a significant increase in facilities, food outlets and stores on offer by November 27 when the official opening would take place, Mr Hill said.
"It's very exciting. Papamoa is finally getting the retail offering it has long been crying out for, and deserved. This is the fastest growing suburbs in New Zealand and we wanted to ensure we future proofed what we were offering to the Papamoa community," he said.
Mr Hill, also vice-chairman of Papamoa Unlimited, said between now and November 27 another 38 jobs would be created, and at least 1260 people would be working on the site.
Plaza owners were due to announce another 10 stores in the near future, he said.
That included the addition of an evening dining precinct with construction expected to start in February and open on Labour weekend.
Mr Hill said the third stage of the redevelopment was likely to accommodate five larger format stores, with negotiations expected to be finalised by Christmas.
If negotiations went according to plan construction on the final stage would start in February-March next year with a lot of development expected to be completed in 2017.
However, Mr Hill said if plans had to be pushed out the deadline for the redevelopment to be finally completed would be Labour weekend 2018.
Between 50-60 stores would be at the centre by then.
Mr Hill said foot traffic usually dropped off during development but the complete opposite had happened, with turnover and foot traffic up in the double digits percentage-wise.
"Feedback from the community has been amazing, and the Plaza owners could not be happier," he said.
Tinline, a Nelson-based company, bought Papamoa Plaza in 2013.
Mr Hill said the project had exceeded everyone's expectations thanks to construction firm Watts and Hughes, which had been "fantastic".
Papamoa/Mount Maunganui ward councillor Leanne Brown said the Plaza redevelopment looked "fantastic" and to have so much variety and many more shopping opportunities right on her and other people's doorstep was "great news".
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