Tauranga's CBD is on the precipice of enormous change.

Over the next five years, $250 million of major developments are scheduled to be completed within a 600-metre stretch from Elizabeth St to McLean St.

Pre-demolition work had started for the $100-million Farmers redevelopment on Elizabeth St, and the $50-million development of 2 Devonport Rd was set to begin later this year.

The new $39 million University of Waikato campus on Durham St will welcome an estimated 1000 new students in February - a year ahead of schedule.

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An artist's impression of the new University of Waikato campus on Durham St. Image / Supplied
An artist's impression of the new University of Waikato campus on Durham St. Image / Supplied

Yesterday the Tauranga City Council announced it had signed a "landmark" partnership agreement with developer Willis Bond and Co to shepherd the planned new central library ($39 million) and civic administration ($23.2 million) buildings on Willow St into being.

The company will also be responsible for bringing a long-heralded international hotel brand and conference centre to the CBD, with negotiations starting soon to agree on the expectations for the project.

A big civic project already under way was the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's $20 million recladding and refit of Regional House.

How Regional House will look after its $20-million upgrade. Image / Supplied
How Regional House will look after its $20-million upgrade. Image / Supplied

The list of significant CBD developments over the next few years also included office buildings, streetscaping, hotels, and a reserve revamp.

Then there was the expected wave of smaller renovations including office refits and earthquake strengthening.

All in all, the CBD will look very different in five years' time.

Major CBD developments under way or starting soon. Graphic / Bay of Plenty Times
Major CBD developments under way or starting soon. Graphic / Bay of Plenty Times

Priority one chief executive Nigel Tutt said he believed the wave of major developments began with Trustpower's relocation to the CBD in 2016, and he could not see it slowing down in the next decade.

The Farmers development, in particular, was a "huge vote of confidence" for the CBD, he said.

Brett Nicholls, spokesman for developer Elizabeth Properties Limited, which is part of the James Pascoe Group that owns Farmers, said the investment was a "significant show of faith" in the vibrant future of the CBD.

Brett Nicholls, spokesman for Farmers Corner developer Elizabeth Properties Limited. Photo / Supplied
Brett Nicholls, spokesman for Farmers Corner developer Elizabeth Properties Limited. Photo / Supplied

He said Farmers corner was "under-utilised" and had been earmarked for redevelopment for some time as a "prime southern gateway site for the CBD".

While there was risk in any development, this one was backed by market research as well as local stakeholders, Nicolls said.

"We received valuable feedback from the business community, in particular, who have endorsed the project for its positive impact on the local economy and investor confidence."

Stores like Farmers were vital for the vibrancy of city centres, he said.

"We see the timing of the redevelopment as critical for providing a much-needed boost for Tauranga's CBD."

The Farmers development will have a Melbourne feel with a mix of retail, eateries, living, and parking. Image / Supplied
The Farmers development will have a Melbourne feel with a mix of retail, eateries, living, and parking. Image / Supplied

Meanwhile, a significant development proposed for the CBD has been shelved.

John McColl, company director of Quintex Properties, said its planned $40-million, 12-storey student hostel in Durham St was viable but "not the right fit for the University and Tauranga City right now".

He said an alternative option - a five-storey, 116-unit student living facility at 38 Selwyn St - was going through the resource consent process.

The company hoped to partner with the university to develop the larger Durham St hostel, which has resource consent, once demand increased.

The $40 million student hostel planned for Durham St has been shelved for now. Image/supplied
The $40 million student hostel planned for Durham St has been shelved for now. Image/supplied

Both projects were submitted in response to the university's call for expressions of interest for purpose-fit student accommodation in Tauranga.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Neil Quigley said the university was "talking to a number of people" about prospective accommodation developments and was open to hearing from more interested parties.

"We'd like to keep building up the range of accommodation options in Tauranga."

He said work on the campus itself - which has been having its distinctive facade installed in recent weeks - would continue right up until the first students arrived in February.

The campus will be further developed in the future as part of the original $88.8 million combined funding agreement, which included the Tauranga City Council's land donation and $30 million in funding from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust.

Quigley said the timing of the next phase would depend on student numbers growing, but the university hoped to start and finish well ahead of the 2040 deadline.

Growing pains for some as CBD transitions

Tauranga Mainstreet chairman Brian Berry said the CBD developments should be celebrated, but the "transition" period of intense construction would be difficult for some.

"It will be painful for some retailers, and already is in many ways."

He said the business makeup of the CBD would change, with more hospitality and speciality stores to support a larger population of inner-city dwellers and workers.

Berry hoped the prevailing attitude downtown would be one of "glass half full".

"It would be nice if everyone could see the long game rather than just the short game."