Plans are afoot to find a top-notch architect and housing developer to turn Napier's Ahuriri Bowling Club into a lasting design "legacy" akin to Auckland's trendiest areas.

Napier City Council director of city strategy Richard Munneke said the 6791 square metre site had been sitting idle since the bowling club folding in 2015 to amalgamate with Bluff Hill Bowling Club.

"That's just around the corner, so there was no need to put a like-for-like development in and build another bowling club."

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The immediate areas was also "probably over-endowed" with parks and reserves, so there was no need to create a public reserve on the site.

"We were thinking, we have quite an ambitious plan, in our Long Term Plan, for a whole host of things. Particularly, the Ahuriri master Plan identified a whole lot of projects around Ahuriri, and we would like to offset rates with whatever we could find."

Councillors had not pin-pointed a specific target for any proceeds but had indicated they would like "at least some" should go back into the Ahuriri area.

Releasing the land at this time would tap into that at a time when the market was in its peak - the land prices around the site had risen 40 per cent between 2014 and 2017.

Munneke said it was hoped the development would create a urban design "legacy" for the area.

"So we wanted to create something that aligns with our city vision of really quality residential environment and also maximises the return of that site, so we can reinvest it into other community assets.

"We have put our best foot forward, in terms of identifying a top quality urban legacy we'd like to achieve by selling the site and we hope we get a developer that has the same sort of vision and wants to do it with us.

"We've had a look at what's happening in Auckland and Hobsonville, which is kind of an inspiration, and it's definitely that kind of high-intensity urban development that will be quite an attractive proposition.

"I'm excited about seeing something that's really high-quality, sustainable design. It's a great site, you can see out to the coast and its in the heart of a place, with the woolstores developments, that has a real urban cool about it.

"We think it lends itself to an architect really doing something great.

"We hope to do something really great here, with a developer as sort of a partner."

Sotheby's International Realty (NZ) sales associate James Haggerty said expressions of interest would now be called for with a hope that finished residential developments could be on market inside two years.

"I think the expectation is that obviously Ahuriri is on the rise in term of land values, and there is restricted land available. So, the timing, we think, is jolly good.

"The council has taken the approach of having some suggestion, when they go to the market, as to how they would like the outcome.

"We are going to the market to find a developer that will obviously pay a good price but at the same time is prepared to share in some of the council's vision for the place."

The site, located between Battery Rd and Coronation and Tangaroa streets, contained a mix of industrial and residential zones.

"We also want to see some element of green space. It's not a cheek-to-jowl terraced housing type concept."

The council had envisaged that development on the Battery Rd and Coronation St side would "observe traditional relationships between buildings and streetscape" while the Tangaroa Street side should "celebrate the unique (industrial) character of this area".

"They are not putting any restriction on, it's more about attracting a developer that will take on board their vision."

Sotheby's had put a document together for the council, calling for expression of interest - including design concepts and plans.

"What we're doing here is casting the net much wider than just Hawke's Bay. We're seeing developers coming on from Wellington and Auckland for something as big as this."