Early last month, the Tauranga City Council Commissioners joined mana whenua, contractors and council staff for the karakia which marks the start of another major construction project in the city centre.
The Council’s future administration building at 90 Devonport Road will be New Zealand’s largest mass timber office building, setting a new precedent for sustainable design which minimises the structure’s embodied carbon (carbon emitted through the manufacturing, transportation and installation of building materials and components).
Targeting a 6 Green Star environmental rating, this 10,450m2 building will demonstrate sustainability leadership and when completed in around two years’ time, will bring all of the Council’s administration staff together under one roof for the first time since 2014.
It also features mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems) design principles, which will influence its connection to the surrounding environment and strengthen the relationship between people and place.
The building will be leased from the developer, Willis Bond, and will activate another part of the city centre by helping to stimulate additional retail and commercial activity in this part of Devonport Road.
For the local business community, the added impetus provided by the 38 Elizabeth development, the Craig Investment Partners building at the bottom of Devonport Road and the new council building will be considerable.
In reality though, that’s only part of a much bigger picture. The projects undertaken as part of the new civic precinct, Te Manawataki o Te Papa, as well as upgrades to the nearby waterfront reserve, Dive Crescent and the proposed coastal pathway linking the city centre with Memorial Park, are also set to revitalise our city’s heart, make it a place we can all be proud of and ensure that more people will want to live in and work, learn, play and visit Tauranga’s cultural and heritage heartland.
Priority One has identified more than $1.5 billion of other committed or planned investments in the wider city centre, so the future of this area as the economic heart of the region is bright.
These include the Northern Quarter development on The Strand; the new High Court building that will be part of the justice precinct redevelopment; ongoing development in the education precinct, together with new accommodation to house University of Waikato students; and the development of apartment blocks to meet the increasing demand for inner city living.
Developments on this scale don’t happen overnight, unfortunately, and there will some be construction-related inconveniences along the way, but any short-term pain will be more than offset by the long-term gain.
So the message for businesses in the city centre is that there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
The metamorphosis of our city centre is underway and the significant investments referred to above will create the thriving future state we all want.