Retailers are divided in opinion over the development of a new retail and office complex planned for a vacant site in Hamilton East.
While many are pleased the controversial Eastgate development has finally achieved resource consent, others worry it will worsen ''nightmare traffic'' at the intersection of Clyde and Grey streets.
Homes for Living developer Barry Livingston has received consent for the three-level development including 346sqm of retail space and 3717sqm of office space. The development would include 187 parking spaces in the basement and rear of the building and 40 shops.
The Eastgate development is located directly opposite the Clyde St shopping centre where retailers such as Tangles Hair stylist Sandy Riley expressed concern about the increase in traffic volumes.
''It's already a nightmare, especially around school times,'' she said. ''People already have difficulty getting in and out of traffic here, some won't come because of [traffic] and I worry that things will only get worse,'' she said.
Those traffic concerns were echoed by owner operator of The Riv Bar and Bistro, Bernard Gittings, who queried whether the development would ''ever see the light of day''.
''It would take a brave group of retailers to be moving in to something like that with the way things are going,'' he said. ''To be honest I would prefer to see that type of investment going into the CBD where it is really needed to bring people back to the centre of town.''
But Diane Bates from Caroline Eve believed the new development would bring more people to the area which ''would be good for business''.
''People need a reason to come and if more shops do that then yes, it is a good idea,'' she said.
Mrs Bates welcomed the idea of additional parking and public toilets in the area while Bakers Delight owner Jordan Darshana hoped the new retail complex would bring him more business. ''We are very excited about this development, it has to be good for everyone.''
Eastgate has also received the blessing of neighbouring Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary where Parish Council chairperson Edgar Wilson commended Mr Livingston for his open approach to the development.
''He has been very reasonable in providing concessions and we are certainly very comfortable with the development,'' he said.
Concessions included reworking plans for a concrete wall which could have affected the natural light within the Cathedral's administration offices.
''They have also put in writing an understanding that we could have access to parking spaces when the Cathedral has large events - that's the sort of philosophy the developer has had and we have no anxiety about the plans at all.''
Mr Livingston did not return calls yesterday, however the Times understands the Eastgate development is expected to take about 12 months when construction kicks off next year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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