City site to get $50m makeover

DANIEL ADAMS
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2012
EXCITING: An artist's impression of the proposed Victoria on the River project.

EXCITING: An artist's impression of the proposed Victoria on the River project.

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A "benchmark" $50 million central city development set to bring hundreds of new jobs to Hamilton has been unveiled to the public.

McConnell Property's plans for the key Victoria on the River site yesterday won praise from councillors for their quality and respect for the city's links to the Waikato River.

The plans feature a public plaza sweeping beneath the building to a high-level river promenade suspended from the building itself above the existing river walkways.

McConnell Property senior development manager Dean Shields said the revamped design proposal had presented the company with a massive challenge to accommodate the council's demands for a quality development, geotechnical issues and site covenants.

He said the impact on the central city of around 500 employees in the office building parts of the development would be significant, and the company was committed to awarding work on the project to local suppliers and contractors "wherever possible."

McConnell estimated that in tandem with an adjacent development of SkyCity's casino the plans represented approximately $50m worth of building for the central city.

Mayor Julie Hardaker said the fact that several major developments are now under way or imminent was exciting for the city and evidence of renewed interest from investors.

"This is about investment, and that hasn't happened in central Hamilton for some time. All of that speaks to confidence in the Hamilton investment market, and that the city is a good place to do business.

"It's an exciting development," said Ms Hardaker.

Yesterday's praise replaced earlier criticism of plans for the critical Victoria St plot.

McConnell hopes to agree commercial terms with the city by September this year, obtain resource consent approval by November and start building by January 2013.

The same company has broken ground on its striking Citygate project, a five-storey, 5300sqm office and retail development next to Wintec and CentrePlace shopping mall on Ward and Anglesea streets, where PricewaterhouseCoopers will be the anchor tenant.

The council bought the Victoria site for $2m from the Brian Perry Charitable Trust in 2009. Under a strategic land agreement, the trust sold the riverside parcel of land and, as part of the agreement, gifted the city a further part of the 4773 square metre site.

Hamilton City Council's professional Urban Design Panel, which reviews significant development proposals within Hamilton, has also endorsed the development proposal.

SkyCity is understood to be still working up its plans for a three-storey, high-quality hotel built atop its existing casino, linking to the adjacent Victoria on the River.

It has been working closely with the city council on its plans for a 135-room addition, understood to include an enclosed pool, with more detail expected by around August.

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- Waikato Times

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