The value of Rotorua building work in the past three months has soared above $56million, boosted by high-value commercial projects including new inner city offices. Rotorua Daily Post reporter Samantha Olley takes a look at some of the new developments and speaks to local developers and businesses about their projects and finds out why the interest in upmarket office spaces in Rotorua.
The value of commercial work consented by the Rotorua Lakes Council in March, April and May was $25.8m, up from $5.7m in the same period last year, and the value of residential work consented was $30.6m, up from $18.2m last year.
In May alone, Rotorua Lakes Council approved $5.9m worth of commercial consents and $10.6m worth of residential consents, including 22 new dwellings.
One of the biggest consents to be given the go-ahead in May was for the $3m shell of Rotorua developer Tony Bradley's three-storey project on the corner of Fenton and Pukaki Sts.
Law firms Morrison Kent and East Brewster merged on January 1 and have signed a lease to relocate to new offices in the building, that will also be occupied by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and a ground floor cafe.
The total site will be 1600sq m with 21 car parks.
Bradley's sub-contractors demolished the former City Autos building on the site and work began on the new premises as soon as the consent was received last month.
He expects the building to be complete by the end of this year and by next autumn the fit-out will be complete and the new organisations will be able to move in.
Bradley said there was increasing interest in upmarket office spaces in Rotorua.
"Businesses especially are wanting to get 'A grade' spaces."
That was the case for Morrison Kent's Rotorua branch, according to partner Helen Nathan.
"We are growing quickly, potentially doubling in size, and we need our premises to reflect the firm's high standards."
She said the team had struggled to find something suitable until they saw Bradley's proposal.
"There was very little available and it was always snapped up right away. We were trying to squeeze into a cramped space."
Bradley said for this project, and others, he aimed to use sub-contractors based in Rotorua.
"I try to use the same people, and that means they're more likely to stay here and stay in the job."
The building design is based on Rotorua's history - the Pukaki St side will reference Māori culture and the Fenton St side will reflect Pākehā culture.
Meanwhile, Pukeroa Lakefront Holdings, an entity of Pukeora Oruawhata Trust, had $1m worth of work consented last month for a geothermal plant room as part of its plans for a multimillion-dollar luxury spa and wellness centre at the Lakefront.
Trust chairman Malcolm Short said this was "just one of several consents required as we move forward with Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa".
In 2017 the trust announced the $30m centre would offer wellbeing treatments with a Te Ao Maori focus, on land previously leased to Rotorua hospital and hospice.
At the time it was tipped to be complete at the end of 2019.
"We have carried out significant groundwork on the site over recent months and are currently evaluating construction tenders," Short said yesterday.
Hawkins central regional manager Peter McCawe said, in the wider Bay of Plenty, the business had "certainly seen the value of commercial consents improving".
"They've improved in Tauranga, but in Rotorua, it's quite a significant improvement. We can see that in the amount of work that's coming to market."
He said the construction business was "upping its resources in the area to cope with that demand".
Rotorua Master Builders president Bill Clement said there did seem to be more demolitions happening and new businesses, offices, and hotels going up.
"It is good to see attractive new buildings, but on the residential side of things, we are still suffering from a lack of sections. People still need homes to live in.