More plans afoot to re­vi­talise Porirua

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - CATHER­INE HARRIS

Moves are afoot to beef up Porirua’s city­hood, as the city’s com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial prop­erty mar­ket re­vive and the coun­cil in­vests heav­ily in re­shap­ing its re­tail area.

A sum­mit last week looked at Porirua’s re­cent eco­nomic ‘‘up­surge’’ and its fu­ture po­ten­tial.

‘‘Busi­ness is boom­ing in Porirua,’’ mayor Mike Tana said. ‘‘Of­fice space oc­cu­pancy is well up on this time last year and sev­eral key com­mer­cial prop­er­ties re­cently sold to new and pro­gres­sive own­ers.’’

Signs of grow­ing con­fi­dence in the city have been ev­i­dent in a groundswell of re­cent prop­erty sales and new ven­tures.

In re­cent weeks, the city’s North City mall has changed hands, the sale of the lo­cal KFC site drew fren­zied bid­ding, and the coun­cil has com­mit­ted mil­lions spruc­ing up the older Cob­ham Court re­tail area.

The city has also seen a num­ber of govern­ment de­part­ments mov­ing in, as well as busi­nesses from Lower Hutt, look­ing for space or to es­cape flood­ing prob­lems.

Recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties are also on the in­crease, the big­gest be­ing a $30 mil­lion ad­ven­ture park planned for Colonial Knob.

Welling­ton’s ris­ing house prices and a lack of land are be­lieved to be fac­tors in the up­surge in large hous­ing projects in Porirua, in­clud­ing Car­rus Cor­po­ra­tion’s Kenepuru Land­ing, which will have up to 800 homes and two re­tire­ment vil­lages.

Work on the con­ver­sion of Porirua’s for­mer NZ Post build­ing into 36 apart­ments has also be­gun, with com­ple­tion ex­pected later in the year.

First Re­tail Group consultant Chris Wilkin­son, who is as­sist­ing the coun­cil with its strat­egy, said Porirua was ‘‘very much the growth cor­ri­dor of Welling­ton’’.

Res­i­den­tially there was the ‘‘mas­sive’’ hous­ing at Aotea, talk of open­ing up hous­ing be­tween Pukerua Bay and Plim­mer­ton, projects in Whitby, Kenepuru Land­ing, the po­ten­tial for in­fill in many ar­eas, and long-term gen­tri­fi­ca­tion of ar­eas like Ti­tahi Bay.

Com­mer­cially, a large Pe­tone in­dus­trial busi­ness was re­lo­cat­ing to the for­mer Mana Coach Ser­vices de­pot in Com­merce Cres­cent. ‘‘I think we’re go­ing to see a lot of sym­pa­thetic in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment there.’’

An­other new busi­ness to re­lo­cate from Lower Hutt is Turn­ers Auc­tions, which just shifted its main Welling­ton re­tail and auc­tion base to a huge new build­ing on Porirua’s John Seddon Drive.

‘‘The im­proved con­nec­tions by Trans­mis­sion Gully open­ing up, land avail­able for de­vel­op­ment, all of those bits and pieces meant it made a lot of sense to have our larger op­er­a­tion out there,’’ Turner’s mar­ket­ing man­ager Sean Wig­gins said.

Mark Madams co-owns the build­ing which once housed New Zealand’s first McDon­alds out­let, and a num­ber of other com­mer­cial build­ings around Porirua.

He has been ‘‘wait­ing for a wor­thy ten­ant’’ for the for­mer McDon­ald’s site and had just se­cured fam­ily restau­rant Cobb & Co.

Madams said in gen­eral, va­can­cies were fill­ing quickly and he was bullish about the city’s fu­ture.

De­vel­oper Ian Cas­sels, whose firm is build­ing the NZ Post build­ing apart­ments and who is also wait­ing to be­gin 18 rental apart­ments in Lyt­tel­ton Ave, said he thought Porirua was ‘‘start­ing to come right’’.

The coun­cil is putting up for ten­der a build­ing it owns at 7 Serlby Place, aimed not nec­es­sar­ily at the high­est bid­der, but at the one who could add the most value.

‘‘We’re go­ing to see some­one come in who’s likely to do some­thing quite spe­cial,’’ Wilkin­son said.

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