Eight developers to reveal CBD projects
Eight key players in the redevelopment of the Hamilton CBD will meet next month to reveal new building projects expected to pump billions of dollars into the retail precinct.
The announcement comes as the city's former retail heart feels the first stirrings of life returning, with retailers confident 2013 will be the year the once-maligned CBD steps out of the shadow of its bigger cousin at Te Awa/The Base.
The Hamilton Central Business Association will host a breakfast event called "Cranes Over the CBD" next month where the project managers of the city's key redevelopments will give updates on current projects and announce new ones, said general manager Sandy Turner.
The eight are: Citygate, Kiwi Income Property, Project Grantham, Hamilton City Oaks, SkyCity, Les Mills Hamilton, Club Cardio, Victoria on the River and the Countdown supermarket next to the Hamilton police station.
The announcements would be a "fantastic" way to start the new year, Ms Turner said.
"It's hard to feel miserable when you've got all those companies investing such huge amounts of money [into the CBD]," she said.
"In fact one of the things I'd love to do is add it all up.
"I haven't yet but it would be up near the billions I'd say."
The event would signal the end to pessimism over the future of the CBD and signal the return of confidence for retailers, Ms Turner said.
"We know we've got a great offering, that many of our stores are owner-operated and that sort of passion can't be replaced with chainstores and franchises."
It is a sentiment echoed by many of the CBD's retailers including Anna Hale, owner of The Look fashion store in Alexandra St.
Mrs Hale bought the business in 2009 and despite last year being tough on the retail sector as a whole, she said it was time everyone was more positive about the CBD.
"People need to stop dwelling on the issue of the perceived lack of parking," she said.
The Worley Place shared zone, which opened last year and connects Worley Place to Alexandra St, had been "wonderful" for her business because it had generated more vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
In contrast, Matt Keen, owner of Velo Espresso in Garden Place, said his business had suffered in 2012 through the loss of workers from the CBD when RD1 and the Ministry of Education both left.
"Big businesses like that are basically it for the central city when it comes to weekday trade for places like us and the Hamilton City Council needs to actively try and keep those big tenants in the CBD," he said.
The council could do more by bringing back free parking in the CBD, he said.
But both agree with Ms Turner that an air of optimism has settled over the city. "The general enthusiasm around the city is high," Ms Turner said.