The University of Waikato city centre campus was 2017's biggest building consent issued in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty valued at $39 million, and was expected to create $133m in annual regional revenue and 600 new jobs.
Priority One's yearly building consents showed the university consent was more than double the value of the second and third highest consents of the year.
Last year's second and third highest building consents were for a care facility on Waihi Rd and stage 2 of the Tauranga Crossing development worth $15m each.
A total $10.9m for the Tauranga Airport upgrade and $8.3m for a social centre and pool at Bethlehem Shores Retirement Village were also on the list of the most expensive building consents issued in 2017.
Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said high-value consents were mostly commercial which showed strong confidence in the business community as companies expanded or moved to the Bay.
"Strong growth in commercial building consents is a reflection of a more productive economy," Hill said.
Hill said it was also great to see a range of commercial consents issued.
"This shows our economy is diversifying and the economic growth is not just based on population growth, so is less susceptible to economic downturns or global events."
Hill said the investment into the local campus would enable the city to obtain more young people who choose to study in Tauranga and would attract students who lived elsewhere to move and study in the Bay.
"It will also add significant vibrancy to Tauranga's city centre and we will see a range of retail established to support students living and studying in the city centre," Hill said.
Future large commercial developments included a $100m redevelopment of the Farmers retail site in Elizabeth St and the new $50m construction planned at 2 Devonport Rd, as well as some high-value office and apartment developments.
"So it is very likely we will have another large year for building consents in 2018," Hill said.
Tauranga City Council building services manager Patrick Schofield said the new campus was expected to create $133m in regional revenue per annum and 600 new jobs.
"Universities are hugely beneficial to the cities that host them – that's why Tauranga City Council donated the land for the Waikato University campus," Schofield said.
"A university in Durham St will bring new life and vibrancy to the heart of the city."
University of Waikato Professor Alister Jones said the university would provide a campus for at least 2000 students in the heart of Tauranga.
"That has huge economic benefit," Jones said.
"For every dollar that we take in it is contributing $4 to $5 back into the economy not just from the staff but the students' spending power as well."
Jones said the campus, which would be open in 2019, was a significant step towards the future. "It is going to be an important part of creating a modern environment. It will put Tauranga on the map internationally as well."
He said the university would also fundamentally change the landscape of Durham St.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief Stan Gregec said the university campus was a game-changer for Tauranga and was what the city had needed for a long time.
"Having an active student population working and many also living in the CBD will make a huge difference to the vibrancy of the city centre," Gregec said.
"Students may not be the biggest spenders but they do consume a wide range of services and add critical mass to the downtown population.
"Tauranga is quickly becoming a proper grown-up city with quality developments like this – and more to come."
A $15m consent was issued to Oceania Healthcare for the first stage of a $100m redevelopment of the Waihi Rd village which would include 81 new care suites offering rest home and hospital care, 209 retirement apartments and seven villas.
Jill Birch of Oceania Healthcare said the redevelopment will be carried out over five stages.
The construction of 81 care suites started in May 2017 and was expected to be completed in September 2018.
Stage 2 will include the first apartments and a full community centre including bar, restaurant, cinema and lounges which would begin following the completion of stage 1.
"The current care facility at Melrose will remain fully operational throughout the build and existing residents will move across to their new care suite once construction is complete," Birch said.
"The new care facility will provide more modern, social and welcoming environments for our residents and will include a restaurant, café, hair and beauty salon and several lounge and leisure areas."
Birch said the existing care building and the small cottages on site would in future be replaced with modern, spacious apartments.
A Western Bay of Plenty District Council spokesperson said consent activity reflected the attraction of the Western Bay for a wide demographic, as well as continuing confidence in the general district.
"Building consent growth is an indication that the Western Bay district is an attractive place to live, work, learn and play and that people are moving their families and businesses here."
The Bay's largest consents for the year:
University of Waikato city centre campus, $39m
Care facility at 159 Waihi Rd, $15m
Stage 2A at Tauranga Crossing, $15m
Tauranga Airport upgrade, $10.9m
Stage 1 commercial 60 Gargan Rd, $9m
Social centre and pool at Bethlehem Shores Retirement Village, $8.3m
Stage 2 commercial centre at Pacific Coast Retirement Village, $6m
Zespri head office basement, $6m
TECT/Bay Trust/Acorn office 17th Ave, $6m
Farmers temporary retail at Tauriko, $5m
Coolstore at Gargan Rd, $5m
Source: Priority One
Western Bay of Plenty's top five building consents of the year:
Katikati Library and community hub Stage 1 and Stage 2: $3.6m
New reservoir, Welcome Bay Rd, Upper Papamoa: $2.2m
New childcare centre, 193A Parton Rd, Upper Papamoa: $1.9m
New childcare centre, 351 Omokoroa Rd, Omokoroa $1.55m
New factory and showroom, 266 Jellicoe St, Te Puke: $1.1m
Source: Western Bay of Plenty District Council