This week, the Phoenix carpark development got under way. First up was the removal of ‘Mountie', the Donald Paterson sculpture of a surfer that stood greeting visitors on the decking of the Mount Mainstreet office. It has been in place for 13 years since December 2005.
Where is Mountie? According to the Mount Maunganui Mainstreet Facebook page Mountie ‘has gone into hiding while construction begins'. The Mainstreet office has started a ‘Where's Mountie' competition for people to go in a draw to win dinner for two. All that's required is to look at the photo on their page and try and figure out where the sculpture is located.
Today the bus stop was lifted from its position and over the coming weeks more changes will happen. It's a good moment to pause and take a look back at the Phoenix Carpark before it becomes part of our history.
Mainstreet Mount Maunganui's Project Phoenix was officially opened by Prime Minister Jim Bolger on July 5, 1996. It was envisaged that the project would revitalise the Mount.
What was happening in Tauranga around this time?
In 1992, the new wharves had been opened at Sulphur Point and the Waikareao Expressway was opened. The following year, Tauranga's Masonic Hotel, which had been built in 1865, was demolished.
In 1995, the Mainstreet programmes got underway resulting in major redevelopment of the downtown areas of both Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. Tauranga opened a parking building on Durham Street, and the Oceanside Hotel at Mount Maunganui was demolished for high-rise apartments.
Nearby, Baypark Speedway closed and then in 1996, the same year Project Phoenix was opened, up to 30 new housing subdivisions also got underway. There was planning around upgrading the airport to cater to international flights and the Bridge Marina opened.
The population of Tauranga had reached 77,775, the Papamoa shopping centre opened and the Edgewater Fan development was completed.
Tahatai and Selwyn Ridge Schools opened and the Cambridge Road tip closed. The Waikareao expressway was re-named Takitumu Drive and high rise residential towers opened at Mount Maunganui. Bayfair and the airport had an upgrade and Cinema 6 and the Maleme Street recycle station opened.
The Phoenix Car Park has been home to the Farmers Market, held every Sunday 9am – 1pm rain or shine. Local producers, artisans and growers from around Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty have sold their gourmet goodies, and speciality handmade gifts. It's provided a popular Sunday-morning fix-me-up with fresh fruit and veggies, coffee, pastries, smoked fish, oils, fresh cut flowers, breads, honey, cheese and juices.
In June 2015, past Mainstreet manager Peter Melgren held in the Phoenix Car Park what he hoped to be the inaugural NZ Gourmet BBQ Chamionships. The competition attracted some of the best gourmet cooks on a barbecue, with one of the teams mounting their barbecue on a fire engine.
The Tauranga to Trenches mobile exhibition commemorating the centenary for the First World War was open to the public at the car park in November 2015. The Marquette Angel display was particularly poignant, telling the story of a nurse who survived the sinking of the British Transport Shop Marquette which was struck by a torpedo from a German submarine.
Morgan sports cars motored in to Tauranga for the weekend of November 13, 2016, with 20 of them on display in the Phoenix car park on the Saturday morning, providing opportunity for locals to chat with the owners.
Both Santa Claus and the Easter bunny have put in appearances, entertaining children and parents.
In 2011, Tauranga City Council undertook a comprehensive review of its property holdings. As part of the review, Council resolved to sell the Phoenix car park subject to a joint venture parking development being undertaken. Council received a proposal; however it did not fully achieve the original intent of repaying debt.
This provided an opportunity to take a broader look at a range of options for future development of the site. Three options were considered - status quo (retain site for car parking), develop site with commercial uses and some public car parking, and develop front area into urban space and retain rear area for car parking.
On November 26 2013, Council resolved to include a proposal in the draft Annual Plan to redevelop the Phoenix car park into an urban space and undertake a community engagement process. Council also resolved to include the required amount of development contribution funding in the draft Annual Plan for the purchase of the front area of the Phoenix car park site from the Transportation Activity to the Open Space Activity, and develop a long-term comprehensive car parking strategy for the Mount North area in the 2014/2015 financial year.
Elected members resolved on April 18 2017 to proceed with the implementation of the Phoenix Park open space development, whilst retaining up to 20 car parks on site and relocating 55 car parks elsewhere in the Mount Maunganui CBD.
The plan for Phoenix park is to create a new urban green space, featuring grass areas, native trees and a flexible space for events and activities. It's envisaged that local businesses will enjoy the economic benefits through increased foot traffic.
The temporary Tourism Bay of Plenty visitor information centre and the Mount Mainstreet office building will be shifted off-site. The existing building at 113-121 Maunganui Road will be demolished with a new development being constructed. Both the car park and building projects are scheduled to be completed and open in December 2018.
The number of parking spaces in the Phoenix car park area will fluctuate during construction. Parking spaces that remain available will become free of charge, with time limits. Four temporary spaces will be created for mobility parking near the development.
The parking area next to May Street will remain open and will be expanded to include 12 extra parking spaces. All parking there will be free with time restrictions.
It is expected that new permanent parking spaces in Nikau Crescent and Prince Ave will retain the balance of parking spaces in the downtown Mount area.