The fate of a new spa development planned for Te Aroha is being considered amid funding difficulties.
Matamata-Piako District Council first put the new facility on the cards in 2019 to replace the existing Te Aroha Mineral Spas, which was operating at capacity and, at times, had difficulties keeping up with the demand.
In 2021, the council established a Project Governance Group to investigate potential locations, feasibility and concept designs for a new, much bigger and modern facility.
It was looking good: last year, the council approved a $37 million concept design, including 11 outdoor pools, six private pools and a rhassoul room, to be taken to the next stage.
That stage saw an investment case being developed and potential investors being approached.
The council said the investment case went out to the market in a “very different” economic climate compared to when the Project Governance Group was first established and conducted its initial research.
“Some parties that were initially interested were no longer in the same position, and ultimately the appetite for the $37m option was not there.”
However, it said two interested parties emerged that would like to explore different ways to scale up the hot pool operation.
“We are currently in a challenging economic environment, and while the interested parties are not embracing the $37m concept, [the] council is still committed to the growth and development of Te Aroha.
“In October this year, [the] council agreed to continue engagement with these interested parties and asked the [governance group] to arrange visits to Te Aroha.”
The interested parties recently visited the Te Aroha Domain, where the development would be located, and would now work through whether they wanted to take this further.
At a full council meeting next week, the spa development project manager is to give councillors an update on progress with the two interested parties.
Based on this update, the council will discuss the next steps.
If the parties are still interested, they will need to explore potential possibilities.
This process is expected to take until the end of June 2024, when the council is to reassess options for the project as part of its 2024-2034 Long Term Plan.
Danielle Zollickhofer is a multi-media journalist based in Hamilton. She joined NZME in 2021 and writes for the Waikato Herald.
Stay up to date with the Waikato Herald
Get the latest Waikato headlines straight to your inbox Monday to Saturday. Register for free today - click here and choose Local News.