Ōpōtiki District Council's Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi project has taken a major step forward.
The council has announced Livingstone Building NZ Ltd as the contractor for the build of the town's community hub.
The town received a boost following last week's announcement from Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters that $11.9 million would be available for the revitalisation project.
The government funding means the council will not have to part fund the project through a long term loan as originally decided at the end of 2019.
Other sponsors have been vital in getting the project across the line including BayTrust's Community Amenities Fund, Lotteries Grants Board and Eastern Bay Energy Trust.
Ōpōtiki deputy mayor Shona Browne welcomed Livingstone to the team. She said it was a special moment in a project she had been working on for many years alongside Ōpōtiki mayor Lyn Riesterer.
"It is such a thrill to get to this point after so many years of fundraising, putting in applications for grants, and finding the most cost-effective way to get this project across the line. The announcement of a contractor is a significant milestone to celebrate.
"For me, this project is a cornerstone of our wider vision for the district. We have so many projects underway that are transforming our economy – we have a mussel processing factory being built, a harbour entrance underway, we have footpaths, cycle trails, horse trails, and upgrades to a few of our key community facilities like the rugby and golf clubs starting soon."
She said the council was working closely with iwi partners and industry to make sure there was a clear pathway from training to work so locals could make the most of opportunities.
"We have new housing being built at the sale yards and infrastructure upgrades to wastewater and stormwater to keep up with the growth in our community. Ōpōtiki is booming.
"With all these changes underway, we need to make sure we hold on to our heart - a CBD that people want to spend time in and is bustling and successful. The feedback we had on our town centre revitalisation project indicates that the community very much feels the same.
"A central part of that is Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi, our community hub. A place that ties together current library services with many other facilities for businesses, not-for-profits, individuals and community groups. It really will be a community facility to call our own and I can't wait to walk through the doors that first time.
It is truly transformative," Browne said.
The contractor, Livingstone Building, was selected following a competitive tender process which highlighted the need to ensure local sub-contractors and suppliers had the opportunity to submit prices for the work.
The contractor has committed to employing locals wherever possible. The inclusion of the new animal pound in the contract has also allowed for more local input into the project.
"The company is based in the Bay of Plenty and they have committed to a number of local sub-contractors and suppliers and this will bring economic benefit and job opportunities to the Ōpōtiki community," Browne said.
"Livingstone Building have also commenced work on Te Kura o Te Whānau Apanui in recent weeks, and are continuing to work with local suppliers and sub-contractors for this project as well.
"The community has given so much time and energy in recent years to bring this vision to life. From bake sales to art tours, we have worked incredibly hard to get this project off the ground. It is exciting to be able to see action on the site."
The community can expect to see activity on the site in the coming weeks and demolition could start as soon as next month.