The Tauranga container village Our Place has asked the city council for more money, with the project already receiving more than $355,000 of ratepayer funding.

The request comes as two contractors claim they are still owed tens of thousands of dollars for work they did for Our Place months ago.

The downtown retail and eatery precinct is owned by Christopher and Rachelle Duffy, who run Little Big Events.

In relation to requesting more funding from the council, Christopher Duffy said: "Yes, we are in the process of requesting further council funding but we can't confirm what that is at present. I think it's also pertinent to mention that we have personally contributed $230,000 to this project."


Our Place officially opened on Willow St in the Tauranga CBD in late August, later than previously scheduled.

There was $526,000 budgeted for the 91 Willow St site in the Tauranga City Council's Long Term Plan 2015-25 Amendment.

The council has already spent $340,000 of that money to establish the site for Our Place.

The council's events department has also provided Our Place $17,824.78 in funding for four different events. That money is not part of the $526,000 budgeted for the site.

Now, Our Place is asking the council for more of the budgeted funding, the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend has learned.

When asked how much, the council would not say.

It said a dollar amount had been requested in confidence.

"Our Place is in discussion with council around support. Council and Our Place are working together to develop a commercially appropriate response," general manager of city transformation, Jaine Lovell-Gadd, said.


She said the council and Our Place had worked closely during the roll-out of the container village, which is on the site of the demolished civic administration building.

"Council will receive a confidential report on 18 December. This report will provide options for council to consider on the nature of any support," Lovell-Gadd said.

In regards to the $526,000 budgeted for the site, she said: "Our Place is the key initiative to activate the site and the wider city centre and build vibrancy."

The council's events department has provided $4000 of funding for the Our Place Grand Opening, $5000 for the Coffee Festival, $7500 for Our Christmas and $1324.78 for Dinner at Our Place.

Meanwhile, a contractor claimed this week that his company was still owed between $50,000 and $60,000 for work it did on the Our Place project.

The business owner, who did not want to be named, said he had got legal advice and was considering pursuing the money through the courts.

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend then spoke to another contractor who said his company was also owed a substantial amount of money for Our Place work.

Co-owner of Our Place, Christopher Duffy, has confirmed money is still owed to contractors.

In response to the first contractor's claim of $50,000-$60,000 being owed, Duffy told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend: "We are aware that the contractor in question is owed a remaining sum from his original invoice of which was circa $120,000.00.

"Negotiating repayment arrangements were unsuccessful with this particular creditor but we're working incredibly hard in the background to meet our obligations."

When asked about the other contractor also being owed money, Duffy said: "We have been able to provide part remuneration where possible whilst we work through this process. Our sole responsibility at this present time is to ensure the contractor in question is paid."

Duffy would not say how much money was owed to creditors in total, or how many creditors there were.

"We're working through the outstanding owed to the contractors in question. I'm unable to go into specifics of what that is at this current time."

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend asked Duffy why there was money owed to contractors and if the initial estimated budget for Our Place had been exceeded.

"As with all pathfinding projects, the scope remained in a fluid state throughout the duration of the design and build therefore the budget reflected that," he said in a written response.

Duffy said Our Place had originally planned to open a year prior to when it did, "but the changeable nature of pathfinding, innovative projects are such that timeframes change".

The Bay of Plenty Times reported in June that the Willow St site had been leased for 12 months.

This week the council said it was working through an opportunity to extend the lease of Our Place.

"This will be negotiated following council's decision on 18 December."

Our Place update at council meeting

An average of 1900 people have been visiting Tauranga's container village Our Place each day, according to pedestrian counters cited in a council report.

There will be an Our Place update in a Tauranga City Council meeting on Tuesday (December 18), part of which will be confidential.

As part of the update, a report containing results of a survey and foot count will be shared with councillors for discussion.

The report, authored by Adele Hadfield, programme director of Heart of the City, says pedestrian counters were installed at Our Place on November 16 (a Friday) and "over a short period of time" showed an average of 1900 people visiting daily.

Meanwhile, a Fresh Info Survey, done in the week of November 5, saw 611 surveys completed – 256 at Our Place (on-site) and 355 elsewhere in the CBD (off-site).

The survey showed of the respondents who had visited or were aware of Our Place, 96 per cent felt it was a positive addition to the city centre and 93 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with their most recent experience.

It also showed 61 per cent of off-site respondents had visited Our Place and a further 21 per cent were aware of Our Place and intended to visit at some stage.

Also, 33 per cent of on-site respondents were in the CBD mainly to visit Our Place, the survey found. It said of these people, 37 per cent intended to visit other shops or restaurants in the CBD.

Hadfield's report says, based on the survey and foot count results, "it could be surmised that Our Place is generating approximately 85,000 additional visits (derived from information about visitation patterns in the survey) into the city centre per year".

It says from an investment perspective, the increased visitation is one of the key returns on investment for Tauranga City Council "during a period of major disruption across the city centre".