Tauranga Crossing's $150 million mall is buzzing - with the sound of hand tools.
With only hours until the glass doors swish open at 9am today and officially open phase one, there was still plenty left to do in the 15 new stores - windows to clean, stock to unpack, staff to train, displays to build, rubbish to clear.
"It goes mad," said Whitcoulls regional manager Christine Stewart of the last couple of weeks before an opening.
"It's been all hands on deck."
The bookstore brand's Tauranga CBD store closed earlier this year but all staff had moved over to work under a new manager in Tauriko, she said.
"The whole centre we believe has got massive potential."
Today's opening would give customers their first look inside the enclosed mall, mostly populated with "essential" and service-type stores - a bank, key cutter, beauty therapists and so on.
Tauranga Crossing chief executive Steve Lewis said it would bring the open area of the complex to about 30,000sq m, including the big-box lifestyle centre over the road.
In April next year, the $150 million second phase of the mall was due to open with a double-level concourse of fashion, dining and entertainment offerings as well as a three-level covered carpark - bringing the total area of the centre to about 45,000.
Early planning was under way for future expansions that would take the centre to about 70,000sq m. Lewis said there was no definite timeline for those developments but he expected they would start in the next few years.
He said more than 500 construction workers and shop fitters had been on site over the last few months, with designers from Warren and Mahoney, builders from Hawkins and the centre's own staff of a dozen also putting in the hard yards.
"After years of work to get to this point is really exciting. I am trying to get my staff to turn their phones off for a day and just enjoy the moment tomorrow; just enjoy watching the customers come in," Lewis said.
Stores opening Thursday
Acquisitions, ASB, Boardertown, EB Games, Enjoy Massage, Everlast Nails, Health 2000, Just Cuts, Kiwibank, Minute Man, OPSM, Phone Life, Stevens, Whitcoulls and $2 Things.