Resource consent has been obtained and an accelerated timeline set for construction of the $100 million redevelopment of the new Farmers building in Tauranga's CBD.
Elizabeth Properties Limited, part of the James Pascoe Group that owns Farmers, this week finished the resource consent process for a new Farmers building, with townhouses and apartments, after expressions of support from the community and businesses.
Today, the company announced a commitment to open the new building as soon as possible in an effort to minimise Farmers' absence from the CBD.
Farmers has occupied the central-city corner since the early 1970s and our aim is to preserve the history of the site and keep Farmers in the CBD.
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Spokesman Brett Nicholls expressed the company's desire to provide certainty to its customers and employees and to play a central part in the reinvigoration of Tauranga's CBD.
"We are pleased to reach this important milestone," Nicholls said. "We are looking forward to getting started with the initial demolition, excavation and piling works which will no doubt bring their own challenges."
Nicholls said the new building will include a Ngāi Tamarāwaho mural along the Devonport Rd frontage.
The timeline will see Farmers move temporarily to Tauranga Crossing in August, with the main works starting on site in September.
"Farmers has occupied the central-city corner since the early 1970s and our aim is to preserve the history of the site and keep Farmers in the CBD," Nicholls said.
"The new building will offer a superior shopping experience and will make a real statement as a southern gateway to the city."
About 180 of the new building's 320 car parks will be available to the public, more than twice the car parks currently available at Farmers.
The retail, food and beverage and carparking components were expected to be open by mid-2020, and the apartments and townhouses above due to be finished by 2021.
"We have had tremendous interest from people wanting to buy the apartments and townhouses off the plans," Nicholls said.
"We have decided to place them on the market once they are substantially complete so buyers can view and appreciate their high-quality design and fit-out, unrivalled amenities and prime location."
Mayor Greg Brownless said the development is the start of an exciting future for the CBD.
"We are delighted to see this significant step for the growth and vibrancy of our city centre," he said.
"Farmers has come forward with a superb new building that will not only offer retail and hospitality but will bring people to live in and enjoy our city centre," said City Transformation Committee chair Larry Baldock.
Chair of the 650-member Mainstreet Tauranga organisation Brian Berry was pleased the consenting process was complete.
"The mix of retail, townhouses, apartments and car parking will be a game-changer for the southern end of the CBD," he said.
Priority One business partnership manager Mark Irving said the project was a quality solution to the need for enhanced retail and residential options in the CBD.
"Farmers' commitment to expedite the redevelopment is welcomed and will spearhead a groundswell towards a more vibrant and attractive city centre," he said.
Chamber of Commerce chief Stan Gregec was happy to see the project move from "the drawing board to becoming a reality".
"Farmers are not wasting any time to get this moving, and it's good to see a commitment to returning to the iconic site as soon as possible."
$100+ million redevelopment
8000sq m of retail, on two levels
73 high-end apartments, in two towers
320 car parks, on five levels
Farmers to return
Other retailers to join
Restaurants and cafes on the first floor