DevelopmentsFor lease

$43m tower to oust backpackers

4 April 2011


A $43 million, multi-level development will create a convenience retail precinct and bring more than 400 additional workers to the Tauranga central business district (CBD).

Lady Rose Dairy, a company associated with the Waddell family and JWL Investments, this week announced plans to build a six-storey office and retail complex, including basement carpark, on a 15,400sq m site at the northern end of the CBD.

The main entrance, a spacious lobby leading to modern offices, a cafe and a skybridge, will be on Harington St where the Play Nightclub is now located.

The Grumpy Mole Saloon on the corner of Harington St and The Strand will be replaced by a more upmarket tavern, and on the corner of Harington and Willow streets the Tauranga Central Backpackers will make way for a restaurant.

Further along Willow St to Hamilton St will be carparking, and the present City Markets car park on Hamilton St will be taken up by convenience stores.

There will be a third parking area on level one, with entry from Hamilton St - the complex will have 195 carparks.

City Markets, which has been operating downtown for 20 years, will be an anchor retail tenant in the new development, which will take 14 months to build.

It will be joined by the likes of a delicatessen, baker, butcher, florist and grocer - all owner/operators.

"We are not seeking to compete with the general merchandise and fashion in Devonport Rd," JWL Investments development manager Peter Williams said.

"The site has its own proven destination with City Markets, and we will back that use into the development.

The convenience retail will be similar to a supermarket offering, and people will be able to pop in and out quickly."

Gary Warner, who has owned City Markets for 10 years, said he looked forward to the new development. "The buildings are old and outdated, and the development will bring life to the downtown area."

He said he was happy to relocate during construction , and did not think finding other premises would be "too much of an issue". The resource consent application for the development has been notified, and the developer could start construction next year.
All buildings on the site will be demolished but only after the developer is confident it can secure tenants for more than half of the large office space.

Before that, the proposed office tower's height will be tested in the resource consent process. The tower, running from the second to sixth floor, will be set back from the street frontages and stretches 32.87m, including the plant room on the roof.

The maximum CBD height is 16m in the new City Plan, after being increased from 12m, but there are still shadowing restrictions.

The developer says the glass tower will have 5000sq m of premier office accommodation, and there will be 670sq m of boutique office space on the first level above the tavern and along Harington St.

"We all know it's overheight but what the city and the council need to consider is that 5000sq m of office tenants is a solution to revitalising the CBD," Mr Williams said.
"They will work and stay longer in the CBD and this will greatly assist the present retailers.

"What we are focused on is pulling together a development that will work for Tauranga, and to achieve this we need height. If you focus on the City Plan, then we wouldn't be able to do something like this."

Mr Williams confirmed he knew of a prospective tenant that would take up more than a half of the tower space, and was confident of leasing the restaurant, cafe and convenience stores quickly.

"We will be dictated by tenant interest, but the key issue is to have a consent to act on, otherwise tenants are not prepared to wait.

"When we get a consent we will be knocking on the door of the one we know," he said. "The success of the office tower will drive the project."

Duarne Lanshear, Priority One city centre manager, favoured the clustering of convenience retailing at the Lady Rose Dairy development.

"It will become a destination and the retailers can leverage off each other.

Commercially, it is an under-used part of town and the development will consolidate the city centre."

Mr Lankshear said it fitted in with buildings around it - such as Harrington House - and it was important that investors/developers get consented.

"Then existing tenants and tenants coming into town know there is space available for them. And good quality tenants require good quality space," he said.