Brackenfields offers boom times for Amberley
A decade after plans were first hatched for a new shopping centre in North Canterbury, it is now signing up tenants. LIZ McDONALD reports.
Amberley's new shopping centre will be the biggest in the Hurunui district when it opens this year.
The complex, to be called Brackenfields, is being built on State Highway One in the North Canterbury town.
Its supermarket will open under the Countdown banner in May, with smaller stores and an alehouse to follow a few weeks later.
The development has been undertaken by Alamidas Investments, which has shareholders in common with the developers of residential subdivisions, including Oakfields on adjoining land.
Spokesman Peter McClelland said that while the project has been long in its planning, at the sme time the Christchurch earthquakes have boosted the region's population and demand for retail.
Brackenfields will have two main source of customers, McClelland says. They believe tens of millions of local grocery dollars are going to shops outside the district each year, and as well more than 20,000 people drive past on the state highway each day.
"Most of that money was going right past the gate. This will help keep in in the area, and create jobs.
"Our goal is to make Amberley the North Canterbury services centre. In a little way, we are taking on Rangiora. "
Leasing agent Evan Harris says stores leased are a cafe-bakery, sushi outlet, Thai restaurant, pharmacy, liquor outlet, florist. Another tenancy is under negotiation with an operator of an ethic eatery.
Harris says much of the demand is driven by the absence of other major shopping centres on the state highway between Kaikoura and Ashburton.
Along with a team of investors, McClelland spent several years buying about 70 hectares of land and securing zoning changes and resource consents for Brackenfields and the residential subdivisions.
The scheme was first put before the Hurunui District Council in 2004. Following delays, they parked the project at the end of the property boom before relaunching it when the numbers looked better.
Alamidas Investments also owns other pieces of adjoining land which it hopes to use to expand the shopping centre.