What was once known as the Phoenix Carpark at Mount Maunganui is transforming into a new urban green space development.
The area at 123-141 Maunganui Rd is now making way for new native plants greening the space.
Tauranga City Council will plant about 20 native trees on site, replacing eight Phoenix palms. A pōhutukawa will be the feature tree of the new space, attracting birds and representing the region's signature coastal tree.
Over time, the combination of species will provide the site with enhanced shade. The new park will also be home to low-growing native shrubs and grasses, representing the region's coastal environment.
Councillor Leanne Brown said although not everyone will agree with the removal of the Phoenix palms, she hoped the community will see this redevelopment as "a great opportunity for the business, retail and hospitality sectors, Mount Mainstreet, residents and create unique memorable experiences for visitors".
"Our natural environment is our greatest asset. It attracts people to live in or visit our city.
"We've considered the layout of the park in combination with the species to be planted. We will plant the trees around the perimeter, with the underground pipes of the upgraded stormwater system in the centre of the park. The majority of plants chosen have less extensive root systems and will have a lower impact on everything underground.
"This will enable us to maintain and manage the new space efficiently and in the best interest of residents, visitors and businesses."
The Phoenix palm is recognised as a pest plant by Tauranga City Council. They are displacing native plant species and can be a haven for pest animals. The council was actively removing them and replacing them where appropriate.
At the park, eight Phoenix palms will be retained. Eight palms will be removed in the centre of the site to provide opportunities for native planting and to create a more flexible multi-use space. The removal is also required for the council to replace the stormwater system, which has been damaged by the palm roots.
The first two Phoenix palms have already been removed and in July the remaining six Phoenix palms will come down to prepare the site for the next steps of development.
Stay up-to-date with the project at www.tauranga.govt.nz/urbanspace