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The skies above Tauranga's CBD are becoming speckled with the tops of new apartment builds. Property reporter Zoe Hunter investigates the impact of inner-city living in the CBD.
About six new apartment builds and more than 200 apartments are either planned or being built in Tauranga's CBD.
And experts say they will help revitalise the area and become a longer-term trend.
The apartment builds are on Cameron Rd, Selwyn St, the Farmers site, Cliff Rd and Quest Hotel on Devonport Rd.
Mainstreet organisation Downtown Tauranga's chairman, Brian Berry, said in his view apartment living in the CBD needed to increase at least 10-fold for Tauranga be a truly dynamic city.
"Inner-city living can and will be a major driver of the city centre's recovery and ongoing viability for the retail, hospitality and entertainment sectors," he said.
"Apart from the economic benefits that apartment developments have during the construction phase, they will be part of the modernisation of the aesthetic of the city centre and will bring greater energy to the CBD as more people circulate within its bounds."
Berry believed the benefits associated with apartment living in the CBD outweighed any negatives.
It would lessen traffic congestion on roads leading into the CBD and developments with sufficient on-site parking would provide more people within the CBD without further parking pressure, he said.
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said it would be great to have more people living in the city centre.
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"It will help the CBD become even more vibrant after work and on weekends."
Cowley said more people living in the CBD would help nearby retailers and eateries year-round and encourage a wider range of choices for people.
The CBD is the hub of Tauranga's transport system and was a good base to get around the rest of the city.
"Thousands of people fight the traffic each day to drive into the CBD for work. Many people will relish the opportunity to skip the morning commute and instead walk to work," he said.
"More people in the CBD 24/7 will make it a safer place for everyone."
Priority One chief executive Nigel Tutt said residential builds in the CBD were the start of a longer-term trend towards increased city-living opportunities, which he expected to strengthen in the future.
"This has huge importance for Tauranga. More intense accommodation in the CBD helps our transport systems, infrastructure and vibrancy of the city centre."
Managing director and principal of Ray White Commercial Tauranga, Philip Hunt, also believed apartment living would help to revitalise the CBD.
"You just need to look at the Mount."
Hunt said the Kingsview apartments and Hotel on Devonport had been a "dramatic change" for the CBD.
"With the new projects coming on the scene, that is going to be a catalyst for a boutique supermarket to establish itself in the CBD," he said.
New Zealand Sotheby's International general manager Richard Laery said apartment living in Tauranga's CBD was one of the future big growth areas of the Bay of Plenty.
"With an increasing population and ageing retirees looking for properties near cafes, restaurants, shopping and social amenities, city living provides this.
"Also, with main beaches in the region only eight minutes away this is becoming the next hot spot."
Laery said there was strong interest from retirees as well as out-of-town buyers, including ex-pats, looking to invest and were now considering Tauranga CBD.
"The CBD is starting to become a very sought-after area due to the cost of transport, traffic issues and ease of living ..."
He said there was a trend of moving from independent family homes to multi-living complexes for extended families.
"This inner-city living will re-invigorate the city and revitalise the retail areas, creating communities and culture within the city.
"Centralised living gives people a great sense of community with access to musical theatre, the arts and culinary scene."
Laery said his team saw huge potential for the future growth of substantial development, with the region benefiting from an improved CBD community, which would add to a "real culture of Tauranga".
However, he said infrastructure and services will need to expand to meet the new inner-city demand.
"These will create many opportunities for businesses as people move into the CBD. Tauranga is on a wave that is going to see strong growth and change over the coming years."
A four-level luxury 32-apartment building at 359 Cameron Rd was also planned to start construction early this year.
Lead sales agent for the Vantage development, Theo Smith, said the building would include five penthouse apartments and a cafe and offices on the ground floor.
The development was expected to be finished by mid-2020 and Smith said already four apartments had been sold off the plans.
Smith believed apartment builds will only benefit Tauranga's CBD.
"The Tauranga CBD will really benefit from the high-density housing, bringing in a lot more people. Tauranga CBD needs it."
Quest Tauranga Central officially opened its 42 hotel apartments on Devonport Rd in October 2019.
Franchise director Craig Mckenzie said the development had so far been well-received.
"We are very full during the week."
Mckenzie said the main comments from guests were that the hotel was well-located in the city centre.
"They like the fact they have got other businesses around them. Feedback from restaurants is that they used to be quiet on Mondays and Tuesdays and now they are a lot busier."
The Latitude Residences - a six-level luxury apartment development on Park St - was expected to be completed in 2020.
Veros Property Services senior development manager Craig McCormick said the project had been well-received.
McCormick said buyers saw the apartment build as well situated with potential to grow in value and demand over time.
A 192sq m penthouse apartment with views from two balconies is the last of 28 apartments to sell and McCormick expected it to be snapped up over summer.
"The introduction of Latitude Residences will be a coming of age for Tauranga unlocking its inner-city lifestyle, and elevating the city to be on par with other major centres," he said.
"It has created the impetus for a change in living and lifestyle to Central Tauranga."
359 Cameron Rd - 32 apartments
1 Selwyn St - 33 apartments
Farmers building – 96 residential units
2 Devonport Rd – unable to determine apartment numbers off property file
Latitude Apartments on Cliff Rd - 28 luxury freehold apartments
Quest Hotel on Devonport Rd – 42 hotel apartments