The Omokoroa community has had a chance to learn more about the JACE Group's $75 million privately-funded proposal to develop a future Omokoroa Town Centre featuring retail space, cafes, restaurants, supermarket, offices, civic centre, a potential theatre and multiple green spaces.
The JACE Group submitted a resource consent application to the Western Bay of Plenty District Council for a shovel ready, Omokoroa Town Centre, located at 404 Omokoroa Rd on land owned by their subsidiary, Kiwi Green New Zealand, between Prole Rd and the Kaimai Views subdivision.
Feedback so far has been very positive - "Fantastic, this can only be good for Omokoroa. Great that JACE are involving the community", "fully support the project and want to see progress happen at speed", "support the project but not keen on a connecting road through Kaimai Views", "would like to see a concept sympathetic to the history of Omokoroa - some softening of design".
Long time Omokoroa resident Rob Hicks was at Saturday's public information day at the Settlers Hall where the project team shared plans and information for the community. He says the proposal is very good ... "it will be amazing if it should come to pass".
Rob was concerned about some of the design if the developers resell the buildings to put an enterprise there, that the new owner may want to make changes.
"The supermarket didn't look like it had enough storage but the carparking underneath is a good idea," he says.
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson also paid a visit and says it is an exciting plan for Omokoroa.
"It shows that Jace and their business partners can see a big, bright future ahead. "A privately-funded project on this scale can only be good for locals and visitors alike."
The MP says he was pleased with the way the company has been engaging with the local community and their willingness to seek input from residents.
"A development like this obviously has a number of regulatory hurdles to cross, but I'm hopeful none of them will prevent it going ahead."
Earmarked for growth as early as the 1970s, in recent years Omokoroa has begun to develop rapidly. Projected to be home to 12,500 people, over the coming decades it will be one of the largest towns in the Western Bay of Plenty.
The JACE Group proposal would see an unprecedented level of private sector investment in Omokoroa, backed by a financially stable and reputable company.
Director Craig Lemon lives at Plummers Point and has been in the Western Bay area for over 30 years.
"Our philosophy is to build local for locals - we want to give the Omokoroa community a town centre it can grow with, thrive in, all while complementing the environmental surrounds."
Another on the project team, Hayley Larman lives at Te Puna and was one of the first to build at Lynley Park in 2012.
"We have watched the growth at Lynley Park, Kayelene Place, Margaret Place, Harbour Ridge and Kaimai Views. We have seen the rapid speed at which they have developed and we want to help."
Why has the group taken on such a large commercial proposal at Omokoroa? Craig says while our history is in horticulture we have been active in the past 20 years in the planning and construction of substantial modern industrial buildings.
The OTC proposed floor area is 25,000 m2 - but will be staged – meaning areas will be constructed over a number of years – this will be driven by the predicted population growth and demand for services, he says.
"The land we own is the only commercially zoned property west of the railway line. The land area between SH2 and the railway line will become urbanised over the next five to 10 years and our property is relatively centrally located, with a good part of the new urban area being within easy walking distance to OTC.
"We have seen the development of the Kaimai Views housing area on our northern boundary, the Harbour Ridge subdivision on our eastern boundary and the Ministry of Education owns the land on our southern boundary – so the days of the property staying as a kiwifruit orchard are limited.
"Given the land is already zoned commercial – it made sense to proceed with our OTC proposal.
"Otherwise – it provides a challenge ... and I guess there is the element of rising to that challenge and creating something we are proud of."
The project team is excited about the opportunity to develop their land in Omokoroa into a vibrant town centre and help shape their community's future.
"We are confident that our fit-for-purpose proposal will meet the growing needs of Omokoroa over the next 40 years."
Omokoroa is expected to be at full capacity in the next 15 years with previous studies identifying the need for two commercial centres to service residents and surrounding rural areas.
■ For more information visit www.jacegroup.co.nz Submissions to the Omokoroa Town Centre proposal close next Friday, July 17.