City centre’s new dawn

By: Nigel Tutt

Nigel Tutt
Chief Executive of Priority One

 The announcement of the planned redevelopment of the civic precinct is an extremely positive one for the city.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the resurgence in investment in Tauranga’s city centre, with around $1 billion of largely private sector investment either underway or shortly about to be.

Moves like the civic redevelopment will only strengthen this investment, and help improve the attractiveness of the city centre as a place to live, work and visit.

Whilst the project itself will be of huge benefit to the city, I think the wider effect of leadership from the council is also really important. Usually, private sector doesn’t want to be involved too much with council business apart from necessary roads, resource consents and the like.

Tauranga’s CBD is a different story; the historic lack of investment from both public and private stakeholders has led to inertia, mistrust, and a need for council to show some leadership.

The private sector has been very clear in what it wants to see from council – that they should invest in their own city; that investment should be targeted at areas that only council can invest in (ie, public realm, streetscaping etc); and that investment should encourage people to come into the city.

This development meets all three, and will provide developers and investors with confidence that they can invest more themselves.

The civic precinct redevelopment itself will contain a new library and civic whare/debating chamber, alongside an events space, museum, hotel, performing arts and conference centre. This combination covers most of the gaps that we have in the city.

The design provides connection to the cultural and historic significance of the site, and flows through to the waterfront – an underused asset for our city. The development is on the existing library and civic building site, one that has been plagued by watertightness and mould issues since 2014, and provides the catalyst for this redevelopment.

This proposal now needs to be progressed from the concept stage that it is currently in. There is a large amount of work that needs to be done on design and feasibility, with the biggest issue likely to be how it is funded.

I’m sure there will be resistance by some around burden on the ratepayer, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a default option - there are many options to consider for funding and I’m encouraged by the willingness of the commission to take a fresh approach and look at alternative models.