Big build boosts CBD hopes

The site on Devonport Rd where a new six-storey office block is planned.

The Tauranga City Council is eying up a proposed new development in the CBD as a temporary solution for its scattered staff.

Property developer Wills Bond & Co is in negotiations to buy several sections off the council so it can build on 4300 square metres, from 82-98 Devonport Rd.

The six level building will house Craig Investment Partners and its 230 staff but could also provide room for council staff that are scattered across three different sites at present.

The council’s master plan for a civic precinct on Willow St has been stalled for two years and Mayor Tenby Powell is keen to get that moving again.

“We have an urgent need to rationalise the inefficient and expensive use of three separate city-centre buildings for our civic administration functions.”

A report commissioned by the council and prepared by The Property Group TPG “conservatively estimated” that staff spent 22,000 hours annually, walking between buildings at a salary cost of more than $1million each year.

“One option would be to lease space in the exciting new building planned for 90 Devonport Road and council has agreed to explore that possibility with the developer,” Tenby says.

He says the Devonport Road development will create a significant number of jobs during the construction phase.

“We’re in the fortunate position of being able to act as the catalyst for a marquee project, which in conjunction with the nearby Farmers’ retail, commercial and residential development, will provide some real impetus to the city-centre economy and create an attractive inner-city environment where people will want to live, work and play.”

The bulk of the new Devonport Rd development will be office space but there will be some ground floor retail.

It will also have pedestrian linkages connecting Devonport Road and The Strand with the waterfront and the Matapihi footbridge.

Willis Bond & Co managing director, Mark McGuinness says it will be a “landmark project” for the company and one that they we’re very excited about.

Plans are well-advanced for a major office and retail development at 82-98 Devonport Road, which the principals believe will breathe new life into Tauranga’s city centre.

Property development and investment company, Willis Bond & Co has plans to develop the 4300 sq. metre Devonport Road site, which is currently the subject of a conditional sale and purchase agreement with the owner, Tauranga City Council.

Craigs Investment Partners will likely be the anchor tenant for the building, which will feature a high-quality, mixed-use development approach incorporating commercial and retail spaces. Current plans envision a six-level, above-ground office space above ground-floor retail, with pedestrian linkages connecting Devonport Road and The Strand with the waterfront and the Matapihi footbridge.
 

Mark says the venture solidifies a long-standing relationship with Craigs Investment Partners.

“We’ve worked with Craigs for more than 30 years, so it is fitting that we’re able to work on this project together, and support Tauranga City Council’s efforts to revitalise the Tauranga city centre,” he says.

Willis Bond & Co is well-known for its award-winning developments, recently taking the top architecture award for their Wynyard Central apartment development, along with a number of commercial property awards for their work on Wellington’s PwC building.

“We’ve learnt a lot about what it takes to construct quality buildings and communities through our developments in Auckland and Wellington. This will be a landmark project for us in Tauranga and one we’re very excited about,” Mark says.

Craig Investment Partners chair, Neil Craig, says the company has outgrown its existing premises. “The Devonport Road development will cater for our 230 current staff and provide the space we need to grow,” he says.

“We’ve been looking for a suitable waterfront site for some years now. This site meets all of our requirements and clearly signals Craig’s intention to keep its head office in Tauranga for the long-term.”

One of New Zealand’s leading investment companies, Craigs has 19 offices around the country, employing around 540 staff, with an additional 50 per cent holding in a similar investment advisory business in Australia.

Mayor Tenby Powell says the decision to sell council-owned properties at 82, 84, 90, 94, 96 and 98 Devonport Road to facilitate the development comes as part of a wider initiative to re-consolidate council’s office-based services in a single location and revise the master plan for the future use of the Willow Street Civic Precinct.

“The master plan process has not progressed at all for close to two years and we need to clarify what our aspirations are for the Willow Street site and engage with hapu so that we understand the historic issues which may impact upon its development,” he says.

“At the same time, we have an urgent need to rationalise the inefficient and expensive use of three separate city-centre buildings for our civic administration functions. One option would be to lease space in the exciting new building planned for 90 Devonport Road and council has agreed to explore that possibility with the developer.”

He says the Devonport Road development will create a significant number of jobs during the construction phase and achieve council’s strategic objectives of realising value and facilitating quality commercial development.

“We’re in the fortunate position of being able to act as the catalyst for a marquee project, which in conjunction with the nearby Farmers’ retail, commercial and residential development, will provide some real impetus to the city-centre economy and create an attractive inner-city environment where people will want to live, work and play.”

A report setting out council’s civic accommodation needs, with recommended actions to address the longstanding issues involved, was adopted by elected members at a public excluded meeting on March 24.

The report has now been made public (with redactions to protect commercially sensitive information) and will be made available on council's website. The purchase price for council’s Devonport Road properties will be disclosed following the completion of a due diligence feasibility investigation, and confirmation that the sale is unconditional.

 

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