Construction has begun on a new multimillion-dollar surgical theatre at Tauranga's only private hospital, contributing to $33.8 million in commercial consents issued.
Priority One's latest building consents report showed $4.8m for a new surgical theatre at Grace Hospital was one of seven million-dollar-plus consents issued for commercial developments last month.
That included $1m for a new batching plant for Aerocool, $1.3m for four industrial units at 1 Rakiraki Way, $3.7m for a new car showroom and workshop at 47 Maru St, $6.8m for 40 warehouse units at 76 Portside Dr, and $18m for a new development at Copper Crest Retirement Village.
Grace Hospital general manager Janet Keys said construction had already begun on the surgical theatre, which was hoped to be completed by December.
The hospital was expanding due to increasing demand, with more than 8000 patients through the doors this financial year, she said.
"We have got busier, with population growth and new surgeons moving to the area who need theatre sessions available to them," she said.
The existing theatres are 56sq m and the new theatre will be closer to 60sq m, Keys said.
The theatre will include a new air-conditioning system and a new patient hoist.
"When patients are first recovering from anaesthetic they need to be lifted and moved, so we have decided to invest in a hoist for the health and safety of our staff and patients," Keys said.
"I believe it is one of the first in New Zealand."
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The hospital was also working on another project to increase the size of some of the service departments and there were talks of adding another theatre at a later date.
Tauranga's surge in commercial consents during the first four months of 2019 has finally started to slow after a record-breaking $68.7m in March, leaving room for construction activity to ramp up.
With the hammer down on city construction, one local recruiter said there was no shortage of tradies up for the job.
However, industry experts fear there was a lack of commercial and industrial land to buy and build on.
Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said the lower value of commercial building consents in April meant things were "back to normal" after the record-setting month in March.
"Commercial consents are usually around $30m a month, so the $68.7m was exceptional and the highest ever monthly value issued," she said.
"Now that these commercial builds have been consented, construction will start."
Hill expected the value of consents to remain steady for "quite a while yet" due to the availability of business land.
"This is driven by the desirability of Tauranga as a place for businesses to base themselves and also by the growth in businesses that are already here," she said.
Bayleys Tauranga commercial manager Mark Walton said prices paid for commercial and industrial land was "hitting new heights" but the city was running out of it.
"A lot of buyers are looking for industrial commercial land to build on," he said.
"A lot of people want to grow their business here. There is still a lot of activity out there to invest and grow business, they just need the land to be able to do it."
But commercial development in the city has created hundreds of jobs for tradies working on the new University of Waikato CBD campus, Farmers building, and the expansion of Bayfair Shopping Centre and Tauranga Crossing.
1st Call Recruitment managing director Phill Van Syp said there was no shortage of tradies as commercial construction spiked.
"Tradies are always wanted. There is no slow down in the need for valuable skills in the Bay," he said.
"While the building consents might be slowing down, tradies will be working on projects which can take a few years to finish and there is a lot of construction going on in Tauranga."
A spokesperson for Elizabeth Properties Limited, Brett Nicholls, said there will be 400 tradies working on the new Farmers development in the city centre at peak construction.
Nicholls said key developments like the Farmers building were a catalyst for a strong construction industry and tradie opportunities.
"There is no doubt Tauranga is undergoing a revitalisation phase, highlighted by a surge in construction activity in recent months," he said.
"Large-scale projects such as Farmers support a larger population of construction workers initially and then inner-city workers and dwellers."
Building consents - April 2019
Total value: $80.5m
Total number: 186
Total value: $28.8m
Total number: 67
Total value: $33.8m
Total number: 28
Government & community consents
Total value: $527,000
Total number: 2
Western Bay of Plenty
Total value: $12.5m
Total number: 69
Total value: $8.7m
Total number: 21
Total value: $1.2m
Total number: 3
Government & community consents
Total value: $405,000
Total number: 2
Source: Priority One