A large turnout of Nelson's business community helped mark the move of Bowater Hyundai to its new central city premises, while its former premises down the road have been given a reprieve from pending demolition.
Close to 300 people, including Hyundai executives from Auckland, gathered last night in the new showroom on the corner of Hardy St and Rutherford St, previously occupied by Bowater Honda.
The group's Honda operations moved late last year from the corner site to new premises next to its Toyota workshop in Achilles Ave, off Wakatu Square.
Bowater Honda chief executive Chris Bowater said it was a great evening helped by an "amazing turnout", and a speech by Nelson College for Girls student Georgie Holdaway, who spoke about her adventure over summer on the sail training ship, Spirit of New Zealand.
Georgie was one of two girls' college students last year to receive a Bowater Hyundai scholarship to join the voyage. The company supports two annual scholarships to the Spirit of Adventure Trust worth $900 each, and the college selected the recipients, Bowater said.
It also supported the school with the use of a car each year, and last night presented it with a new five-door Hyundai I20 hatch. The car is used to promote the scholarship programme and is used by teachers for school duties.
Bowater said the evening topped off a season of encouraging business growth.
"March was our best month in three years. I think generally people are more positive, but it's also to do with the range of product that just keeps getting better each year," Bowater said.
He said late last year moves to upgrade the showroom to accommodate the Hyundai branding had been delayed because the city council's traffic and pedestrian management plans for summer prevented businesses from being able to block footpaths with equipment such as hoists, needed to erect signage on buildings.
"It's been a bit of a marathon and it always takes longer and costs more than planned, but we got it finished, and we're really impressed with how it's come up."
The Bowater Motor Group has spent the past few months repositioning its major central Nelson showrooms and workshops to accommodate the planned demolition of its Hardy St building [next to Pizza Hut].
Demolition was to have started by now and the land was to be used to expand the group's used caryard, but recent relaxing of rules around the levels to which earthquake prone buildings are to be strengthened means it will be re-assessed and possibly saved from demolition, Bowater said.
The recent Earthquake-prone Buildings Amendment Bill means buildings now have to be strengthened to meet 34 per cent of new building code, as opposed to the earlier 67 per cent threshold. Bowater said it would not have been economic to strengthen the building to that standard.
"We went to the council and said we needed an opportunity to re-assess the situation and we've been given a three-month window to do that.
"We may well strengthen it and keep it, or we may still have to demolish it."
Bowater said regardless of the outcome of that decision, the process of assessing the building was the catalyst they needed to make the necessary move.
"It's really been the push we needed as Hyundai has outgrown its premises."
Does Nelson deserve to be classed as a city?Related story: (See story)