Council gets behind $1.2m Mapua project

THE PLAN: Architects’ drawings of the planned $1.2 million retail development at the Mapua Wharf.
THE PLAN: Architects’ drawings of the planned $1.2 million retail development at the Mapua Wharf.

The Tasman District Council has given the go ahead to a new $1.2 million development on the former aquarium site in Mapua.

Despite some ratepayer concerns about the debt-laden council taking on the project, the council has decided to proceed.

Work will start early next year on the new development which will have five businesses in a 550sqm warehouse-style building. Businesses will lease space from the council.

Last month the council's commercial sub-committee recommended the project go ahead and now the full council has given its approval.

The site has been vacant since fire destroyed the aquarium in 2011.

The commercial sub-committee considered three options - a container-mall, a council-owned development or leasing the land to a private developer.

Councillors opted for the council-owned development with $390,000 of the cost coming from the insurance proceeds the council will receive following a fire at the old library site in Takaka.

Under the conditions of the policy that money can only be used for a commercial building and not the restoration of the old council service centre or any other public building in Golden Bay.

The rest of the project would be debt funded within a closed account and would not require any further support from rates or other council money, a council spokesman said.

"The ability of the development to support itself was a key factor in its commercial viability. With the indicative costings and acceptable returns this is a very real proposition," he said.

Councillor Brian Ensor said while $1.2m had been provided in the annual plan for the project, he expected the cost to come in under $1m. It would go out to tender.

The project is expected to be completed in time for the summer season of 2015/16.

Ensor said one reason the council was able to go ahead with the project was because of the interest shown and it was virtually all leased. Hamish's Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe would move in and other tenants were likely to be connected with tourism.

"I'm pleased we have got to this point after three years. The Mapua Community Association and wharf advisory group are supportive. Generally it's a really special place for the district and it will be an added attraction for locals and visitors," he said.

The Nelson Mail