Hamilton CBD open for business, says mayor

ANDREA FOX
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
Project Grantham
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Project Grantham: The six-level riverside building rising on Grantham St will be ready for occupation in December.

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With 50 commercial property-associated developments worth around $300 million on the go in the CBD, Hamilton is saying "this city is open for business and the place to put your money", says mayor Julie Hardaker.

She told a Cranes over The CBD presentation by some of the city's major commercial property developers in Hamilton yesterday that council staff had been "flat out" processing land use consents in recent months.

Of 116 consents, 38 had been for commercial property developments, she said.

More than 220 sector players turned out at SkyCity Hamilton for the presentation, organised by the Hamilton Central Business Association.

Lyall Green of Design Management Consultants, developer of Project Grantham, said the six-level riverside building rising on Grantham St would be ready for occupation in December, just 17 months from start.

State owned enterprise Mighty River Power is the anchor tenant.

Green said space, including a retail option, was still available on the ground and first floors. The building will have a restaurant and function room.

Part of Project Grantham had been relocating the 109 year old heritage-rated building The Hamilton Club, beside the main building.

Green said his company "ran into a brick wall" in trying to discuss its ideas and concepts for the old building with the Historic Places Trust.

"They have their own passionate ideas which from a rationalist's point of view are completely irrational - and I told them so," he said.

"It is a concern there are a number of buildings with historic place designation (in this area) if this city really is going to pay homage to the river. There are a number of buildings that will have to deal with the Historic Places Trust."

Green said the next obstacle to progress were archaeologists, who had a budget of $300,000, and "held up the project for months" just to find a "few broken plates and a horse bone". The Hamilton Club building will offer 440 square metres of space over two floors.

The main building is "green star" rateable to the equivalent of a four-star rating.

Sustainability features include the use of recycled rainwater and the most efficient air-conditioning system on the market, Green said.

McConnell Group, developer of the distinctive triangular Citygate building rising on the Anglesea and Ward St corner site that has been vacant for 17 years, said its development would be the first in the CBD to be accredited with a "green star" four-star rating. The A-grade building with a 73 per cent interior daylight ratio, would be finished in mid-July, said spokeswoman Kate Watts. The six-storey building featured four office levels of 1000sqm each, largely column-free, and ground floor retail offering five to six tenancies, she said. It would accommodate up to 400 people. At basement level would have parking for 42 cars. A highlight of the development was its 735sqm public plaza.

Further north in Victoria St, two gyms are facing off, with Les Mills about to open a new facility on the former Dallas Motors site at 729-747 Victoria St, and Club Cardio seeking approval to redevelop a structurally unsound building opposite at 800 Victoria St.

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Blair Wolfgram, managing director of Property Consulting Group, lead developer for the Les Mills project, said it would have a 2800sqm exercise area and a 440sqm group fitness studio, 150sqm bigger than the current facility one block south. The new facility is expected to have up to 5000-member visits a week, he said.

Club Cardio director Susie Vincent said plans included two 25m "fast" swimming pools and a flow pool, learn-to-swim classes and parking for 110 cars. A name change was on the cards, with Fast Lane a contender, she told the Waikato Times.

For the $40m Centre Place redevelopment, Ivan Bartley of owner Kiwi Income Property Trust said the shopping precinct formerly known as Downtown had closed on January 31 for conversion into a dedicated fashion mall, with new tenants and new shop fronts.

A $7m digital upgrade and refurbishment of the Centre Place cinema complex for Hoyts would open in October, Bartley said. Centre Place comprised 12 properties which KIPT starting buying in 1994. When the 2011 redevelopment of Centre Place as a focus of "fashion, food and entertainment" with new anchor tenant Farmers was complete, it would have more than 110 specialty stores, he said.

- Waikato Times

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