A new vibe is springing up in Tauranga's downtown to help reverse the doldrums and create a zany community attraction.
Colourful containers have started arriving at the Willow St site formerly occupied by the now-demolished council administration building.
They are being assembled into a village called Our Place - the culmination of Tauranga company Little Big Events' long wait for the right time and place.
''We are really excited,'' director Rachelle Duffy said. ''It will be very colourful and inclusive.''
Scheduled to open on the weekend of July 28-29, Duffy said it would be similar to the Christchurch's post-quake container village but without the strong commercial focus.
''It will have more of a heart and soul community vibe.''
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless welcomed the development, saying it would add interest to the downtown that could do with more people.
''It is something zany and different. Its purpose is to get more people down here, so let's hope that happens. I don't see any downside.''
Features would include the Good Neighbour Trust establishing rooftop community gardens on six of the 35 containers. One of the beneficiaries would be the Bayleys-sponsored community kitchen in the village.
Duffy said any community group would be able to use the kitchen for any reason.
Containers were ideal as collective spaces for people like artists and craftspeople to work together and sell their products. So far half the spaces had been tenanted, and she was keen to hear from other potential stallholders.
Duffy said Our Place ticked the box for the council's Heart of the City strategy to rejuvenate the CBD. She hoped it would attract people who did not normally come into the CBD.
''It is about flicking a switch in people's minds.''
Little Big Events did not want to be seen as taking business away from existing retailers, she said.
Other plans for the seven-day-a-week attraction included a covered stage for free movies and music concerts, with the other end of the site dedicated to food and beverage outlets.
Duffy said if Our Place was successful, the council had offered to find them another site in the CBD. The Willow St site was earmarked for future civic developments.
''The council has the same vision as us.''
She said the new university campus opening next year in Durham St would bring more than 1000 people into the CBD every day. The food outlets, music evenings and free cinema would be perfect for students.
Liquor would be allowed to be served on the site which meant licensed premises could open until 11pm.
Duffy saw spin-off opportunities for Baycourt and the Art Gallery, such as ticket holders for shows getting discounts on food and beverages sold in the village.
However, she was not expecting Our Place to be an overnight success.
''It will take a little time.''
Setting up had taken longer than she originally expected.
''We had to go through the process - to see what worked and what didn't."
Little Big Events had leased the land for 12 months, and contractors were moving in next week to build the village which included cutting out windows and doors on the containers.
Tauranga Mainstreet chairman Brian Berry said some retailers were concerned they could lose trade, but the positive aspects were supported.
''We need more people in the CBD, so it has got to be good.''
He said the people behind Our Place had a strong following in Tauranga, and Mainstreet felt this would create opportunities by bringing additional people into the CBD.
Mainstreet also felt that most of the offerings in the stalls would be a bit different to what was sold elsewhere in the CBD. He understood the village would be there for a maximum of 18 months until the site was redeveloped.
Our Place objectives
- Help tell community stories
- Platform for small-scale businesses, artists and musicians
- Add diversity and vibrancy
- Bring the community together
- Platform for charity initiatives.