More plans afoot to revitalise Porirua
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.