Food, drink and entertainment venue Our Place is expected to become a casualty of Tauranga City Council's plans to move its CBD civic precinct - but not all is necessarily lost.
The council announced yesterday that its library and customer service centre was relocating to the Goddards Shopping Centre, its Willow St site was being demolished and rebuilt, and the Our Place facility next door would be disestablished early next year.
However, Chris and Rachelle Duffy, of Little Big Events, who run Our Place, say they are looking at opportunities to move the container village elsewhere.
Our Place had been operating on the Willow St site — a concrete pad left after partial demolition of the council administration building — since 2018.
The Duffys have leased the Willow St site from the council for $1 a year, but paid operating costs.
Rachelle said Our Place had a "positive impact" on the CBD as it provided "a sense of place" and had become "a hub" for encouraging people to think about sustainability in business.
Our Place was initially meant to have a 12-month term, she said.
Rachelle said she was "grateful and proud" the project had endured "various challenges" to achieve a three-and-a-half-year tenure.
Last year, the council considered closing Our Place as it was struggling financially. The council spent $537,000 on the site since it started, including $120,000 in grants.
Such top-ups from the council frustrated some CBD businesses, who saw the village as competition.
Despite council staff recommending the closure, the council voted to keep it open. A $160,000 grant went towards new initiative called ReMaker Space, where waste headed for landfill could be reused or repurposed.
ReMaker Space founder John Paine said he was "sad in one sense" about Our Place closing.
"There aren't too many spaces like that in town so that part of it is going to be missed in terms of the street food aspect and the community and open space for gathering together.
"Our Place has served the community pretty well – a lot of people have been very supportive of it," he said.
"But there has to be progress within the city and that's part of it. Council's got plans for developing the site into something better and we always knew that was the case."
Paine said he, too, was looking to use Our Place as a stepping stone to get fully established "in our own location".
The time at Our Place had been "very positive" and he had used it to develop their brand and organisation, he said.
The Rising Tide and High Tide owner Glenn Meikle said he was disappointed about the closure, but always knew it was only a short-term structure.
"We actually do a lot of little events which bring in a lot of people to the CBD so it's probably helped a lot of other businesses especially hospitality because we finish early - we haven't got a late licence."
But Meikle said business had "always been a struggle" at Our Place.
In the council's announcement, commission chairwoman Anne Tolley said she hoped the relocation and redevelopment would bring more people and vibrancy into the CBD.
However, Musicworks Tauranga manager Baz Mantis said he did not think the move would make an impact on boosting CBD business.
"It's not the council building that's keeping people out of town," he said.
"The big thing customers are telling us is lack of parking."
Mantis' concerns were echoed by Ray White Commercial managing director Phil Hunt.
"The library relocation, it will be putting people into the heart of the pedestrian area which can only be good for businesses but where are the clients and customers going to park?
"While I applaud council for the positive announcement, it seems to ignore the issues of parking."
Tauranga City Council infrastructure general manager Nic Johansson said staff were developing a parking strategy to guide how parking was managed in the city.
"An area-based parking management plan will be developed for the CBD, applying the parking strategy direction, of which parking solutions for areas surrounding the Goddards Centre are included."
Tauranga Ratepayers' Alliance spokeswoman Dawn Kiddie said the decision brought to a close "an error where businesses were subsidising their competition through council rates - a major area of concern to [downtown] hospitality businesses".
In her view, the council and interested parties were "too focused on a few hectares downtown".
Kiddie said the alliance wanted "full transparency and engagement with proper consultation".
"It's not just businesses and commerce funding this area - we the ratepayers are also."
Chairman of Citizens Advocacy Tauranga Rob Paterson said residents were "quite happy" to have the existing buildings stay where they were and there was no justification for "any demolition anywhere".
"I don't think [residents] want money spent in the CBD because ... the council by various policies have killed it. The outlying areas like malls have taken a lot of the business away from the CBD."
The budget allocated to the refit of the Goddards arcade is $2.78 million and the total cost for the first phase of the redevelopment project is $48m.
Tolley said in response to concerns raised the relocation and wider redevelopment programme was consulted on during this year's long-term plan process.
"... We received a clear message from the community that they wanted to see these projects progress."
Community consultation was expected to continue as plans progress, she said.
"Council's investment in these projects now, along with the other projects happening across the city, will give private investors continued confidence to invest in our city centre. The benefits of this investment will be felt by communities right across Tauranga as well as by those who choose to visit, work and live in the city centre in decades to come."