Construction of a $1.73 million replacement for a building destroyed by fire at Raglan's wharf will begin next week but its landlord, the Waikato District Council has only one confirmed tenant.
The council is negotiating with potential tenants, including at least two of the four businesses there were in the old wharf building, razed in April 2010.
But the Herald understands rent at the new building could increase by 100 per cent, making it unaffordable for one seasonal operator.
Raglan Kayak co-owner Candide Reid said she and her husband, Stephen, would not be able to return if rents doubled.
"The reason we were there is because the rent was affordable. We close half of the year due to the village being seasonal, so for us to pay incredible rent would just kill us."
The couple, who moved the business to their home after the fire, were waiting on rent costs and details of the set-up inside the building before making a decision.
"For us the office was a magical rustic place that was very affordable to rent and we have a feeling that's going to change."
The design of the new building, by Beca Consultants, was not popular with some residents and Mrs Reid said she would be disappointed if the 1920s wharf lost its charm when the building was finished in June.
Former tenant Mark Mathers, who ran Raglan Seafoods - including a fish and chip shop and a smokehouse - from the original building, said he was negotiating with the council over rents and space.
If he moved back into the building he would need to redesign aspects of it to allow for his large-scale operation, which included supplying 200 tonnes of fish a year to buyers in Auckland's Viaduct Basin.
Mr Mathers said the reduction in deck space would be a problem and the new building's higher veranda cover meant customers would be more exposed to bad weather.
Resident Graham Hannah said he hoped Raglan Seafoods returned to the building.
"Having fresh fish in Raglan is an important one because it's a seaside town."
He said it would be tragic if the building went up with no tenants or with tenants not in keeping with the style and culture of the wharf.
"It shouldn't be set up as a shopping precinct. If they say, 'Well we can put a two-dollar shop in there because they can pay the rent,' I don't think they should be allowed to do that."
Raglan ratepayer and former Raglan Tourism chairwoman Rosie Worsp hoped the building would retain its character and people would still be able to buy fresh fish at the wharf.
Waikato District Council water and facilities general manger Richard Bax said the council was in discussions with the original tenants over rents and the costs would be made public once agreements were signed.
However, he confirmed rents would be higher to reflect the cost of the new building and current rentals in Raglan.
The rents had been established by an external consultant.
Mr Bax said there was space for seven tenants and one original tenant, the Raglan Coastguard, had signed up.
He said there was less space in the new building because the council had to comply with legislation requiring toilets inside.
"We believe the new building, however, is a more efficient use of space and more flexible. For example, the walls between the tenanted spaces are not structural walls so they can be removed if the tenant wishes."
The accidental fire devastated the Raglan community and on top of the financial loss to the businesses on site, historic items stored at the building were destroyed and jobs were lost.