Te Aroha may soon have a new business suburb as Matamata-Piako District Council buys a section on Waihou Road to develop for light industrial purposes.
The council says it has been looking to buy land in Te Aroha for years, but there were no suitable sections available until now.
The property on 25 Waihou Road is a lifestyle block with about 7ha of land and was listed on the open market. The council bought it for $1.29 million
Matamata-Piako Mayor Ash Tanner says buying the land was "really good news" for the town.
"I'm really pumped about it, [because] the prospects are endless. It could be a nice little business suburb.
"We are not talking huge factories here, more like timber and hardware stores, farm supplies or tractor sales and service businesses. I see this as a game-changer opportunity for Te Aroha."
He says at the moment, local residents are limited when it comes to shopping in the town.
"They have to go to Morrinsville or Matamata. We don't even have a hardware store in Te Aroha anymore."
Bunnings Warehouse used to have a branch in the town but closed it in December 2019.
Tanner says for years Te Aroha had been trying to keep up with economic growth and when businesses contacted local real estate agents to ask about commercial land available in town - there wasn't any.
"There were lots of missed opportunities [for Te Aroha] here."
He says businesses not only had no opportunity to come to Te Aroha, some were also telling the council they had to leave the town because it couldn't provide opportunities to expand.
"Te Aroha used to be a shining town. We had the Thames Valley Electric Power Board, the Bendon factory and IRD ... We feel it is important to retain and attract ... businesses to Te Aroha to facilitate the vibrant town it has been in the past."
Since the announcement of the council buying the land at the beginning of June, things are looking up, Tanner says.
"We had quite a few big businesses ... voicing their interest, but nothing is set in concrete yet."
The council stresses the purchase of the land is simply the start of the project.
Tanner says there are still a number of details to work out, including creating a business case and completing a district plan change to rezone the land.
"I'd like it to happen tomorrow, but, and I hate this word, we have to go through a process."
He expects the business case to be done within a few months, but until it's built, it could be a year or more, he says.
"Fingers crossed [the business case] will stack up and work out for the betterment of our district and town. If it doesn't, we can always re-sell."