Napier's empty childcare centre mystery caused quite a scene, but the grand opening is now near for the brand-new building that has sat empty for over a year.
The centre is set to be operated by early childcare operator Tiny Voices.
Tiny Voices is set to open four centres throughout the country - Wellington, Napier and two in Auckland, in the next few months.
According to a company spokesperson the building was built for a previous tenant who was later unable to operate the site due to issues with other centres in the region.
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As a result of that tenant being unable to operate, Tiny Voices stepped in and took over the lease in March 2020.
It will be run by general manager Rory O'Connor, who has pivoted from his role as development manager of the construction company that built the centre.
Childcare specialist Sophie Taylor and a team of staff from around Hawke's Bay have been appointed with the aim of providing education, nutrition and learning experiences for children aged 0-6 in Napier.
The centre is set to open in early April. The playground is currently undergoing a redesign that integrates the natural elements of the Napier Hill, catering to the children's needs, exploration and fun.
O'Connor said he wanted to open a facility in Napier, having grown up in the region and having such strong roots to the area.
"I'm really looking forward to Tiny Voices nurturing and growing with the next-generation of Hawke's Bay children - it means a lot to me.
"I think over the last few years Hawke's Bay has really flourished and grown, and I'm so proud to be able to add to that with Tiny Voices," O'Connor said.
"My family lives here, many of my friends are now raising their own children here and I look forward to doing the same."
The building on the corner of Chaucer Rd and Carlyle St used to be the site of the well-known Hawke's Bay watering hole The Royal Tavern before it was sold in April 2016 to an Auckland-based development company, LEP2 Limited.
The company, LEP2 Limited, is owned by Mark Finlay and Russell Thompson.
The tavern, one of Napier's oldest pubs, moved to the corner of Chaucer Rd and Carlyle St more than 150 years ago from the Ahuriri spit, where it was often flooded.
The at-times troubled pub was put up for sale in 2010 but was passed in at auction after bidding failed to reach reserve.
It later closed in 2014 because of rising costs and poor patronage and then LEP2 Limited bought the site in 2016 for $305,000 and planned to start development early.
The centre's construction was started in April 2017.
But construction ran into problems when archaeologists surveyed the site and found skeletal remains which they thought to be pre-European Maori.
It is now believed the remains were of an animal but the halt in works delayed the building's completion by over a year.