The major $200 million Farmers development set to revitalise Tauranga's CBD is back on track despite the uncertainty caused by having to stop work during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Elizabeth Properties Limited has announced the project will continue as planned and will be completed close to its original 2021 deadline, despite unavoidable delays caused by the lockdown.
Brett Nicholls, project manager for Elizabeth Properties Limited, part of the James Pascoe Group that owns Farmers, said the commitment to continuing the project as planned was what was needed "to get Tauranga City moving again in the right direction".
The site, which will be host to the country's new flagship Farmers store, 97 high-end apartments, 23 luxury townhouses, a dining precinct and additional retail, is set to bring a new lease of life to the CBD.
"As with many industries across New Zealand, at the time of lockdown the unknowns outweighed the certainties and everything was on the table," Nicholls said.
"The lockdown knocked everyone around and it was tough to know what the right course of action was. All options regarding the development had to be considered during the lockdown period. It was a difficult time."
Revised timelines were being considered due to the lockdown delays but Nicholls was confident the development would be finished close to the original deadline.
Construction of the lower level was almost finished and the upper level was progressing well with the first columns for the apartment towers going up this week.
In March, the excavation of the basement was finished and during alert level 3 progress was made on the basement carpark with the ramps now extending down to four of the five levels of parking.
Once done, the carpark will house nearly triple the number of car parks previously available to customers.
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"All teams involved are pleased to be back working at pre-lockdown levels, working double shifts to maintain social distancing requirements and we look forward to sharing our progress with the community again," Nicholls said.
Last week, Tauranga City Council's comprehensive streetscaping plan of Elizabeth St was approved.
"It's really exciting to hear the surrounding areas will also come to life through the council's planned streetscaping, to add another layer of vibrancy to the city centre and create a CBD of which locals can be proud."
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said it was great to hear the Farmers development was back on track.
"Soon the city's traffic will be congested again, making inner-city living more attractive.
"Farmers will be complemented by more developments being announced, which also include inner-city living.
"The CBD has a bright future, and the completion of this all-in-one development will offer the CBD some fresh new vibrancy."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said the delivery of this project in adverse conditions showed the value of Farmers and the James Pascoe group to Tauranga.
"They and their team are great operators and such a high-quality development is hugely valuable to our city."
Downtown Tauranga's chairman, Brian Berry, said he was pleased builders were able to get back on-site immediately after level 4 lockdown.
"We are really pleased the project isn't substantially delayed, which is fantastic," he said.
"Everyone in the CBD is really looking forward to the retail aspect of the development being opened up in 2021."