Consents for commercial building projects have hit more than half a billion dollars in the past year, with one business leader saying Tauranga is "cooking with gas''.

Figures from Priority One show the value of consents from June 2017 to May 2018 was a record $516.4 million, compared with $486.4m the same period last year.

The growth comes hard on the heels of an economic boom, reported in the Bay of Plenty Times in June, with 2980 new jobs and 798 new business units in 2017.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said Tauranga was ''well on the way to being transformed into a modern, grown-up city''.

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''Well, we're cooking with gas when it comes to commercial development in Tauranga. Everything's happening together – with much more to come," Gregec said.

However, if Tauranga wanted to become an internationally competitive city there were still ongoing challenges.

''It would be great to see a big hotel chain come to town and some more cultural amenity to go with the business boom."

Tauranga is on the crest of a wave, says deputy mayor Kelvin Clout.

''I feel this wave is going to keep surging on for years, and indeed decades," he said.

''This growth is fantastic for the city as Tauranga has traditionally relied on residential development, which is not sustainable in its own right. Commercial growth provides residents with an abundant variety of real, long-term jobs, which is much more sustainable.''

The main constraints were likely to be the availability of suitable land for both commercial and residential development, and the ability of transport networks to cope, he said.

''Either way, local councils and central Government will need to make significant infrastructural investments over the next 20 years, and ensure or planning regime is flexible enough to allow for rapid expansion.''

Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said the consents reflected confidence by investors and a strong and expanding business community with high levels of employment growth.

The highest value consents included Tauranga Crossing with six consents at $67.4m, the University of Waikato $39m and $24m for Zespri's head office.

Last year was a "stellar year" for the city, with Tauranga topping other cities in New Zealand with unprecedented GDP growth of 6.6 per cent, job growth of 4.6 per cent and business unit growth of 5 per cent, Hill said.

Tauranga Crossing chief executive Steve Lewis said 110 retailers and about 1000 staff would be part of its mega shopping development with the completion of stage 2 in April.

Total investment in stage two of the project was more than $150m.

Lewis said the multi-level shopping centre would have the only Vmax theatre in the Bay of Plenty, with six screens and more than 1000 seats, a dining precinct with about 15 restaurants and eateries, a garden and 75 other fashion, apparel and general merchandise retailers.

''This is the largest building project in the region, and about 500 construction workers and shop fitters will be working on the site," Lewis said.

"We expect to complete further development in future years, ultimately making Tauranga Crossing the largest shopping centre in the Bay of Plenty.''

Zespri communications manager Oliver Broad said its new office was progressing well and on track to be completed next year.

Broad said the three-storey office would stand in a park-like setting and accommodate 300 staff with some industry partner organisations. It included on-site parking for around 180 cars, some underground.

''Zespri has well and truly outgrown our existing building as the organisation has grown to support our industry's rapid progress. With global sales expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2025, the new building will provide the facilities we need to deliver this growth for the kiwifruit industry.''

The building had state-of-the-art features including a smart facade, efficient heating and air-conditioning services, and water recycling.

Hawkins project director Roy Lehndorf and Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley at the site of the new Waikato University Tauranga campus site. Photo/Andrew Warner
Hawkins project director Roy Lehndorf and Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley at the site of the new Waikato University Tauranga campus site. Photo/Andrew Warner

University of Waikato Professor Alister Jones said the university would provide a campus for at least 2000 students in the heart of Tauranga and would open in 2019.

Universities drive economic growth, he said.

''Every dollar the university brings in has a $4 multiply into the community," Jones said.

"If we bring in $10m that is $14m extra into the economy because you have got students spending money in the community, buying food, rent and services."


Top commercial consents
* Tauranga Crossing six consents - $67.4m, largest consent was $20m.
* University of Waikato city centre campus $39m.
* Zespri head office $24m.
* Aged-care facility on Waihi Rd $15m.
* Pacific Coast Retirement Village $13m.
* Tauranga Airport upgrade $10.9m.
- Source: Priority One from June 2017 to May 2018