Plans for a $70 million seven-storey office building at a prime spot in Tauranga's CBD have been revealed.
Demolition of the former Westpac building at 2 Devonport Rd is nearly complete to make way for a seven-storey office building, with ground-floor retail and hospitality.
Craigs Investment Partners will become a cornerstone tenant and the building will be named Craigs Investment Partners House.
The project is among 20 key developments included in the Tauranga CBD Blueprint released last month, highlighting $1.5 billion of investment from the private sector into the city by 2030.
Craigs Investment Partners founder Neil Craig said it had been a lengthy process to find the appropriate premises in central Tauranga before its term at its premises on the corner of Spring St and Cameron Rd ends in early 2024.
"This office will serve as our national head office for around 250 of our 650 staff who are based here in Tauranga.
"With about 650 staff in 19 offices throughout New Zealand – a new head office will help us attract and retain the highest quality personnel here in Tauranga and the meeting rooms and conference facilities will be a 'little bit special' for our clients."
Tauranga building firm CBC Construction was awarded the contract to build the new office and Wingate Architects was working with developers on the design.
The project is set to be completed in the second half of 2024.
Tauranga businessman and spokesman for the developers, Richard Cashmore, said Craigs Investment Partners would be the anchor tenant taking the top four floors of the building.
The developers and owners would be a syndicate of locals headed by Cashmore.
Initially, they were looking at including apartments but building an underground carpark to provide sufficient parking space proved difficult.
"Then we looked at the possibility of putting in a hotel, but Covid-19 lockdown happened, and hotels became no longer that flavour of the month."
So, it was back to the drawing board before deciding on a seven-storey office building, with ground-floor retail and hospitality.
With Thirty-Eight Elizabeth Street under construction at the former Farmers site, the University of Waikato's CBD campus and the new Craigs Investment Partners House project, Cashmore said more people would be attracted to the city centre.
"Those three projects will be a massive boost to the city. What the city needs is people, and this project will bring in excess of about 500 people," he said.
"We are delighted to reach this point of the project. It has been a long road, but it is going to be something quite outstanding. It's going to be great for Tauranga."
Bayleys Tauranga commercial agents Lynn Bradley, Lloyd Davidson and Brendon Bradley were the exclusive agents connected to the project.
Lynn Bradley said the team would be focusing on local and national tenants to lease the remaining office, hospitality, and retail spaces.
"A lot of developers are eyeing up Tauranga for opportunities and that's what we need. It will bring a new vibe and more people to the CBD."
Bradley said it was going to be a "state-of-the-art" building and this would contribute positively to the CBD.
"The CBD has been transitioning for some time," she said.
The CBD had some long-standing tenants, but it was time to "refurbish and repurpose" to cater for the changing market.
Lloyd Davidson said the project had been in the pipeline for several years.
"But brilliant things take time."
Davidson said the project formed part of the rejuvenation of the CBD, and it would provide confidence to other developers.
He said the building had remained empty since its former tenants vacated the property three years ago.
"It suited its purpose well but today the demand is for clean and new. The property, an old building, was past its use-by date."
Tauranga Business Chamber spokeswoman Laura Boucher said it was great businesses were committing to the CBD for the long term.
"Devonport Rd, in particular, needs more corporates working in the city centre as they are the main customers for ground-floor eateries and retailers.
"There is genuine interest by a number of businesses up Cameron Rd to come back to the CBD over the next few years."
Boucher said working-from-home options were here to stay, but there was a genuine need to stay "plugged in to what's happening in the region by having corporate offices in Tauranga's CBD".
"Having companies like Craigs confirm their commitment to the city centre will improve the chances of more quality apartment complexes in the CBD."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the Craigs Investment House was "a quality development with a quality tenant" and will be a huge boost to the Tauranga CBD.
"Tauranga's CBD will transform over the coming years, the CBD Blueprint outlines $1.5 billion in development this decade.
"Premier developments like 2 Devonport Rd as the head office for Craigs Investment Partners will lead the way in this transformation."