The cutting of a chain across Paeroa Racecourse last week was a symbolic act to the community which will get to step back inside thanks to new ownership.
Eight years after the last horse crossed the finish line, new owners of the 33.5 hectare site are open to ideas.
"It will be about what the community likes and wants to enjoy," said Wayne Wright, whose WFT Finance & Investment Company Ltd took possession and celebrated on Thursday.
Wayne and wife Chloe of the Wright Family, of Tauranga, are behind The Wright Family Foundation, a charitable trust which was nationally recognised for its philanthropy for maternal health and children's wellbeing.
The couple are the largest provider of early childhood care in New Zealand and say they are in a position to invest in the right community projects.
Paeroa's movers and shakers are among those who are now part of their team on the racecourse development. Among them, former Mayor Basil Morrison, Positively Paeroa's Jo Tilsely - who managed the couple's Best Start Waihi early childcare centre - and Tim Bartells, developer and co-owner of Paeroa's Longridge Country Estate, who's charged with overseeing rezoning and consenting.
Tim contacted Wayne to advise him of the opportunity to buy the racecourse and has been brought on to manage aspects of the development but is not a shareholder or partner in the racecourse project.
Wayne and Chloe Wright are financiers of the Longridge Country Estate, a 250-villa retirement village in Paeroa with Tim Bartells. The facility has brought $180 million investment into the town.
WFT Finance & Investment Company plans to develop but also to refurbish racecourse stands and kitchen areas to continue the link the course has with the region.
Wayne says there are no plans to remove any of the majestic old trees on the property.
He is open to ideas from the community, and is happy to take emails from anyone.
Asked who people can contact if they have a suggestion, he said: "Me."
"We're not a big organisation, we don't have a board of directors. We're our own decision makers," he says.
"Usually with something this size there's a whole lot of filters in the middle, it's just a tone stop shop here."
So far, a commercial hub over half the land and a residential subdivision on the balance is being considered.
"The racecourse has a proud legacy of serving the Hauraki district and we intend that the site maintains that legacy," said Wayne.
"This is a first step in quite a long process. We'll continue to develop concepts and ideas over the next year with the aim of providing long lasting employment opportunities for the region."
Opening up the old stables to host a community farmers market and the planned refurbishment of the existing facilities could create a dedicated wedding and special events space, he said.
The first event is a market day on Friday (tomorrow).
"We're committed to working with iwi, community and all stakeholders during the process to ensure a great outcome for the people of Paeroa and Hauraki."
Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams says there is a need for investment in facilities.
The Hauraki district continues to outperform growth predictions, a trend that will put pressure on the region's already tight housing market.
"It's still very early days and there is still a formal process to be followed for re-zoning and consenting but I'm allowing myself to feel a little bit excited about this fresh start."
Over the coming months and into the New Year, the development team at the racecourse will be meeting with the local community, talking to residents and iwi, and firming up development plans for submission to council.