The city council has spent $2.4 million securing land near the Nelson waterfront, with the aim of one day being able to use it to extend its city-to-the-sea project.
It has bought two sites on Haven Rd for strategic purposes.
The land bought off Port Nelson was previously occupied by Reliance Engineering and the Four Seasons store.
The council is a 50 per cent shareholder with Tasman district in the port company. Chairman Nick Patterson said the company, which recently issued an $8m special dividend to both councils, would use the sale proceeds to pay off debt.
Mr Patterson said the bigger picture was what the council planned to do with the land.
"They're trying to make that gateway more attractive and user-friendly."
Councillor Pete Rainey, who holds the community services portfolio, said the 2933 square metres of prime land had been bought as part of the council's strategy to connect the city with the sea.
"We're holding this prime land for strategic purposes in the future. The final use for the site is yet to be decided."
He did not know if the council planned to tenant the vacant buildings on the site.
"I presume that's the best idea for now but whether a tenant could be found remains to be seen," Mr Rainey said.
The council was under way with plans for the first stage of the city-to-sea link as part of the Heart of Nelson strategy, which will take in staged development of Rutherford Park, the Trafalgar Centre upgrade and the Maitai walkway through to the Nelson marina. A portion of the money for the project has been included for public consultation in the 2012-13 long-term plan.
The second stage would incorporate linking the city to the sea beyond the marina and possibly to Tahunanui.
"Councillors have talked about this issue with the waterfront for some years, but the recent land purchase is purely strategic," Mr Rainey said.
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