CBD’s transform as live, work and play districts

Bricks and mortar retail is no longer the main reason to go into the CBD’s of Hastings, Havelock North and Napier.

The continued growth of online shopping is reshaping our CBD’s to be the heart of our cities as a broader mix of living, working and play areas. Councils and private developers such as Wallace Developments and entrepreneur Michael Whittaker have invested many millions to revitalise our CBD’s in recent years. Hastings District Council has recently completed a 10 year revitalisation plan for the Hastings CBD which culminated in spending $60 million redeveloping the historic Hawke’s Bay Opera House complex – now called Toitoi.

As well as an arts and culture hub it has attracted new hospitality offerings such as Craft & Social, Cellar 495 and Long Island Delicatessen, joining the other more established Fun Buns, the Common Room and Brave. Hastings’ first ever hotel, Quest, has also just opened.

The council has also revamped pocket parks and bought buildings to be replaced by lane ways, improving connectivity between Heretaunga Street and side roads. The investment has in turn attracted new businesses into the city such as Datacom, Fingermark, AskYourTeam, along with luring the region’s economic development support agencies such as Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce and Export HB from Ahuriri, Napier.

The Tribune complex has also become a major feature of the CBD and other buildings that are being redeveloped include the former Breakers restaurant, now called H Central and the Westpac high-rise complex.

Council also went through a resource consent application to covert the old Farmers Transport building in Queen Street into apartments. In June and July there was a flurry of resource consent applications for Havelock North, perhaps to get in before the new development contribution rates come into effect.

A Quest hotel is proposed for Joll Road, a new commercial complex on Havelock Road and stage 3 of the mixed-use retail, hospitality and offices in Joll Road.

Colliers Hawke’s Bay Director Danny Blair is the Bay’s leading commercial deal maker, having been involved in many significant sale and lease deals across the region’s CBDs. Danny says Hastings, Havelock North and Napier CBD’s are all close to commercial office capacity and the region is facing a significant shortage of premium office space. He says the renaissance of Hastings has provided renewed confidence thanks to quality developments such as Tribune Development, 101 Queen Street East as well as major investment by council. “Hastings has certainly turned the corner and there’s some great examples of quality development that we can showcase to prospective tenants.

“The biggest issue however is car parking for staff and it makes it significantly harder if you’re pitching to businesses with large workforces.” Napier, which lost some momentum due to a drop in tourists, is now also showing promising signs with Colliers negotiating the Wallace Developments purchase of Dalton House and Vautier House, the largest office setting in the region at 8400m2.

Danny says this project is a game-changer for Napier, invigorating its commercial landscape and adding to the city’s vibrancy. Te Whatu Ora Hawke’s Bay (formerly the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board) will be the anchor tenant, taking up over 2100m2 of office space. “This has created some really strong interest from other prospective tenants and we believe it will be filled quickly. Havelock North continues to transform as a high-end retail, hospitality and professional services precinct and Danny expects some exciting new developments to be announced in the next twelve months. “

Joll Road has changed dramatically already and a Quest Hotel resource consent has been lodged and local developers have also acquired the properties from BNZ to Westpac on Te Mata Road with an eye for an exciting multi-million dollar complex. As our CBD’s transition and expand the CBD business associations will be looking to ensure their retail and professional service members benefit as well as ensuring visitors get a positive experience.

Hastings Business Association’s acting general manager Emma Sey is excited about the future of her CBD, and although there has been growth in online shopping, nothing can replace the experience of going into retail stores like Thomson Suits and Hutchinsons Furniture. “I have no doubt that online shopping growth will continue to impact CBD’s, retailers in particular, however that doesn’t replace the experience of visiting a store to browse and view items, nor does it replace the strong desire to support local businesses within local communities.

“I still see CBD’s offering more boutique retail options, alongside eateries, services, health & beauty; they will all still have their place in the future,” she says.

Napier Business Association general manager Pip Thompson has the same sentiments and a vision for a CBD that is more accessible as well as offering more inner CBD living. Pre COVID19 Napier was the CBD of choice for many locals, especially with a wider mix of national retailers, but with tourism being a major casualty of lockdowns, more building lease signs went up. Unperturbed Pip and Napier City Council are looking at the many positives including the welcomed return of cruise ships and major events.


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First published by The Profit. Click here to read the full article.