Allowing a private developer to lease a Mapua site would result in business failures, says Tasman District Council commercial manager Gene Cooper.
The council is to develop the former aquarium site, which it owns, building premises for five businesses. Tenders will go out at the end of November, with construction scheduled to start next April and the premises to open in October next year.
Cooper said the council had decided to proceed with the project to retain control.
"Everybody says the council should not be in development, but if we left it to a private developer, they would let it for higher rent and businesses would fall over."
The council already had confirmed interest for 85 per cent of the space, he said.
Cycle business Wheelie Fantastic would move from its corrugated iron shed, and Hamish's Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe would shift from its existing premises into the new building.
Another space would be taken by another Mapua business, and there was also interest from out of town, Cooper said.
"One of the key reasons the community wanted us to retain control was to maintain control over the types of businesses so we don't end up with ‘booze alley', and to ensure the viability of our existing businesses.
"You can't put in a heap of restaurants. Quite a lot would fall over."
The council has budgeted $1.2 million for the project but councillor Brian Ensor has said the cost is likely to come in under $1m.
Further council development at Mapua was unlikely at this stage, Cooper said. While a motel and conference complex had been proposed, the party behind it had not wanted to pursue it, he said.
Future developments would not be done by the council, he said.
- The Nelson Mail
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