A group of Tauranga business people have become so frustrated by the city council's mismanagement of its CBD parking monopoly, they plan to build their own parking building.
The council was put on notice earlier this year when commercial real estate agent Philip Hunt offered the council a share in the new parking building intended to be built on Durham Street/Spring Street, opposite the existing city council parking building.
The site has gone through several iterations including that of a hotel/conference centre. In February Philip was saying there will be four floors of parking with 200 parking spaces on each floor.
The city council was advised of the development in February by Ray White commercial manager Philip, who invited the city council to buy in with a floor of parking.
With council buying in the development will include four floors of parking with 100 cars per floor – two for the hotel conference centre and 200 car parks for lease.
A lack of secure parking in the central city is holding back its revitalisation, says Phil.
Businesses are wanting to move back into town from their converted suburban housing, drawn by the lure of the cafes.
The Ray White agency has more people wanting to move their business into Tauranga than there are carparks available for them.
Apata Coolstores has found its new First Avenue offices working so well the company wanted to bring more staff in from Katikati, says Philip.
The Tauranga office works because it is central for the staff to move in and out of between customer calls about the district.
Philip's recipe for re-vitalising the central city is to lease all the first floor office space in town. The people in the offices will eat in the city and add to the retail precinct's foot traffic.
“Quite frankly it's my opinion that the future of the CBD lies not only with ground floor tenancies, but also strongly with filling the first floor tenancies up.
“That's where we are really struggling because a lot of businesses wanting to relocate to town are consultant and so on, that are in and out.
“They must have access to car parks so they can come back to the office, do reports and head out.
“But the problem is finding parking. I would describe the situation now as desperate,” says Philip.
“We can hardly accommodate new tenants because of the lack of leased parking available.”
He says the business community has taken up the call to build more parking with incredible rapidness.
“We are working along the lines that we can't wait for council to support it, we have just got to get it done.”
They have a site, the former TEL building on the corner of Spring Street and Durham, and it's getting good traction.
“We have had outstanding support from the business community, building owners who want to lease long term parks for their tenant.”
When he spoke to city councillors in February he said council participation would accelerate the development by about a year. It was mentioned as a confidential matter at a recent council committee meeting by councillor Larry Baldock.
Speaking outside the meeting, Larry says the council is no longer going to be involved.
“We said we were interested in talking about it, and his response has been there is no need to do so,” says Larry.
“I'm hearing that developers are interested in doing carparks now because it's becoming more profitable.
“It's just a sign of the development that's occurring in the CBD so the demand is increasing.
“It's not so much we are doing anything to affect that, but the message is going out that things are happening in the CBD. We don't require them to provide parking. That requires them to find it in another way, and that creates an opportunity for the market really.”
Larry says the council used to require developers to provide parking on site, but changed the policy when the late Ken Paterson was CEO between April 2011 and June 18, 2012.