Racing couple take a punt on development

Last updated 09:21 19/02/2014
Robin and Jackie Butt
Mike Crean/Fairfax NZ

BIG PLANS: West Melton couple Robin and Jackie Butt are part of one of New Zealand's best known harness racing families.

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The town of West Melton is to get a new shopping complex, writes LIZ MCDONALD .

Robin and Jackie Butt expected developing a shopping centre on their family land would be straightforward.

They are now relieved that construction is about to start after seven years of hurdles, delays and costs they did not expect.

The West Melton couple are part of one of New Zealand's best known harness racing families. They set aside the site for the shopping centre when they sold the bulk of their horse training land for the Gainsborough subdivision in the central Canterbury township.

The $8.5 million complex is due to be finished by Labour Weekend and will include a supermarket, restaurant bar, and shops and offices. The 8300sqm site is on Weedons Ross Rd by the corner of State Highway 73.

"We didn't think it would take this long, we thought it was quite an easy exercise but it didn't work out like that," says Robin Butt of the couple's first property development he says will be also be their last.

They got the final go-ahead from the Selwyn District Council last year. Since then, they have been surprised at the eager response from tenants after just one sign and one newspaper advertisement.

Many of the businesses moving in already have a connection with West Melton or the Selwyn district. Jackie Butt says that with a fast-growing population and several growing subdivisions, West Melton "badly needs" the amenities the development will provide.

About 5000 people live in the area.

Progressive Enterprises has signed up to open a Super Value supermarket in the complex.

It will be joined by a cafe, bakery, fashion store, Indian food outlet, real estate agency, hairdressing salon, beauty salon, medical centre, pharmacy, veterinary practice, and interior design store.

The Butts are in negotiations now with potential operators for a restaurant and bar, and are also on the lookout for tenants such as professional offices or a gym for second-storey office space.

The complex will feature a central walkway linking car parking at the front and back of the site.

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