More than $285 million is being pumped into the redevelopment of Tauranga's biggest shopping malls.
The redevelopments are also expected to have provided upwards of 3200 jobs on completion.
A local business leader says while the creation of thousands of new jobs is good news for Tauranga, he is concerned it is getting harder for small business owners to survive as more prominent brands move in.
Tauranga Crossing's $150m development in Tauriko will employ more than 1000 people once Stage Two is completed in April.
When Bayfair Shopping Centre's $115m expansion in Mount Maunganui is complete, more than 1500 people will have jobs.
The next stages planned for Papamoa Plaza's $20m expansion are expected to provide jobs to more than 700 people by its planned completion date of early 2020.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief Stan Gregec said it was good news for Tauranga residents as a more sophisticated and mature city emerged, reflecting international trends and lifestyles.
"Three thousand new jobs sounds almost too good to be true," he said.
However, he feared for small businesses operating in the CBD and the more established parts of the city.
"It's getting harder and harder for independent owner-operated businesses to survive and thrive when bigger names and businesses and move in."
But not every business was suitable for a mall, Gregec said.
He believes a new generation of small business owners in Tauranga would sprout again in city areas abandoned by traditional retail once the rejuvenation of Tauranga's CBD comes to fruition in a few years.
"The key is you have to be fresh and exciting and offer something different that the malls don't offer."
Tauranga Crossing chief executive Steve Lewis said nearly 250 tradies were working on the site to add a further 18,000m2 of trading space to the development.
"A further 250 shopfitters will also join the site, bringing the total construction staffing for Stage Two alone up to 500," he said.
The centre opened in 2016 with 18,000sq m of floor space and had so far expanded 13,000sq m and the first 15 stores had opened.
An extra 15,000sq m will be added once Stage Two opens in April, creating a total floor space of 46,000sq m with up to 70 extra food and beverage, fashion, apparel, and general merchandise retailers.
More than 100 stores, including national and international retailers such as global brand H&M, will be open on completion.
Lewis said Tauranga was an attractive place for people to live and work because of its strong economy, coastal location, good weather and proximity to Auckland.
"Our development will have a positive impact on economic growth in the region by bringing new retailers to the city, attracting shoppers from a wide catchment and providing employment for local people, in the construction, retail and food, and beverage sectors."
Bayfair's centre manager Steve Ellingford said more than 1000 people were employed before the development started in early 2018.
On completion, Ellingford predicted an extra 500 people would be employed.
The development had created 400-plus construction jobs and more than 350 new retail jobs to date.
"This has also created a flow-on effect with support industries to meet employment demands for the new retail stores such as transport, courier and cleaning companies," he said.
The development would expand the centre's footprint by 9000sq m to 42,000sq m and would include an extra 200 parking spaces, he said.
Thirty stores, including a new-look Countdown supermarket, were already open, and an extra 50 specialty stores would take the total number of stores to 150 on completion.
Ellingford said the second phase of the development, including an al fresco dining precinct with up to eight restaurants and casual food eateries, would open mid-year.
A new seven-screen cinema complex is expected to be opened later this year.
"The development will provide plenty of business and employment opportunities, supplementing the Bay of Plenty's economic boom," he said.
Papamoa Plaza centre manager David Hill said 656 jobs had been created, and the next stages of the redevelopment would employ an extra 40 to 50 people.
Hill said an extra 180 roles had been created at the plaza since the expansion began in 2015.
The redevelopment would expand the 9000sq m shopping centre to 20,000sq m, and another 15 stores would bring the shop total to 55.
A food court and two new stores opened in 2016. The significant revamp also included a village green and outside amphitheatre seating for 40 patrons in a 250sq m performance space for concerts and events.
Hill was gaining consent for the next stages of the redevelopment, which would include an office block and large format retail precinct.
The final costs of the redevelopment were subject to obtaining consent.
Further development plans, timelines, and new retailers would be announced by March 1.
Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said the strong job growth was reflected in the number of new businesses moving to Tauranga and expansion of existing businesses.
"Investment decisions in the retail sector of this size are made by considering many factors, including future population growth over the next few decades, to determine the return on investment," she said.
Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said the mall expansions gave people more job choices and more options for consumers.
Having new and international fashion brands also helped to attract people living outside of the area to Tauranga, he said.
Through the looking glass
TAURANGA CROSSING - $150m expansion
Now: More than 500 jobs
Future: More than 1000 jobs
Now: 18,000sq m
Future: 46,000sq m
Now: 1000 car parks
Future: 1700 car parks
BAYFAIR SHOPPING CENTRE - $115m expansion
Now: More than 1000 jobs
Future: More than 1500 jobs
Now 33,000sq m
Future: 42,000sq m
Now: 1600 car parks
Future: 1800 carparks
PAPAMOA PLAZA - $20m expansion
Now: 656 jobs
Future: 706 jobs
Now: 11,000sq m
Future: 20,000sq m
Now 550 car parks