Hastings is undergoing a renaissance, with millions of dollars of investment happening across the city through both council and private developers, resulting in a feeling of 'underground cool', similar to Grey Lynn in the 1990s.
Nowhere is that better seen than the almost-$24 million, six-year, full interior refurbishment and earthquake-strengthening of the CBD's heritage Municipal Building development, part of the wider Toitoi - Hawke's Bay Arts & Events Centre cultural precinct.
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The project is nearing completion, with the first round of leases available from early to mid-2022 – and Hastings District Council Group Manager Corporate Bruce Allan says expressions of interest in the Municipal Building are invited now, with a range of unique spaces available for businesses who want to invest in Hastings' CBD.
It will be a key part of the new CBD – but will not be alone in spearheading Hastings' renaissance. An $8m Quest Hotel is being built behind the Municipal Building, opening in 2022 with 10,000 bed nights per year but no in-house hospitality.
Situated adjacent to the historic Toitoi Opera House, beloved by locals and visitors, and connected by a new, activated laneway, Allan says spaces like this do not come up often.
"These spaces aren't just special because they're modern spaces in a heritage building. They're also part of Toitoi's wider footprint, which means neighbouring sites are actively working to bring potential customers into these spaces, during the day and at night, seven days a week," he says.
With more than 100 events and 50,000 visitors each year, Toitoi hosts a diverse range of theatre and live performances, alongside conferences and business events. The Municipal Building is a key part of Toitoi's mix of spaces, Allan says, so finding the right tenants is important.
"Toitoi is a home for curiosity and creative expression, where the wider Hawke's Bay community, and visitors from elsewhere in the country, come together to laugh, learn and celebrate. The Toitoi team is committed to leading their industry, so we want like-minded tenants who are equally determined to innovate to get ahead."
There are three spaces available for lease in the first stage of the development.
The first is a 183m² hospitality space which opens out onto both Heretaunga St and the new Opera House laneway, maximising the potential for outdoor dining to make the most of Hawke's Bay summers and high quality local produce.
At the other end of the Municipal Building is a 61m² retail or hospitality space on the corner of Heretaunga and Hastings Sts, a prime site for both foot traffic and street visibility as locals drive into the city centre from Havelock North.
Finally, a perfectly formed 33m² space is available directly off the Opera House laneway – Allan says it is perfect for a distinct, but complementary, hospitality offering to the neighbouring restaurant. "This space is an opportunity to help bring the laneway to life while making every customer feel like they've stumbled across Hastings' best-kept secret."
He says the leased spaces within the development are designed to make the most of foot traffic and the customers neighbouring sites will bring into the area: "We're hoping to find tenants for these spaces who will fit in with our other East block Heretaunga St business owners and operators. It's a community of creators, innovators and trailblazers in a part of the CBD where high-quality heritage leases don't come up very often."
Stage two of the Municipal Building development will include up to five further tenancies, ideal for boutique or outside-the-box retail offerings.
Allan says there is also flexibility around specifications and commercial arrangements for all available spaces, subject to negotiation.
Allan says Hastings will continue growing in the coming years and now is the time to make the most of the excitement building locally and nationally for what is on offer. Retail spending in Hastings is up, too. The quarter ended September 2020 saw an 8.1 per cent increase in retail spend on the previous year, to $53m.
"We're a city of extremely proud locals, who want the best for our community. Our visitors are captivated by our diverse range of unique experiences. So, for the Municipal Building, we want tenants who aren't content with the status quo," he says.
"We want people who are going to roll their sleeves up and help us be even better than we already are. It's really that simple."
FACTBOX: The Municipal Building leases – by the numbers
•Stage One: 183m² hospitality space
•Stage One: 61m² retail/hospitality space
•Stage One: 33m² hospitality space
•Stage Two: 2x 48m² retail space with option to combine
•Stage Two: 47m² retail space
•Stage Two: 54m² retail space
•Stage Two: 54m² retail space
Find out more at municipalbuilding.co.nz