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by Rachael Comer

A national cafe chain has been confirmed as the first tenant in a Washdyke retail development.
Robert Harris will open a cafe at the complex, which will be built at 209 Hilton Highway on the former Seedlands site, at the turnoff to Pleasant Point on State Highway 1.
The project, being overseen by Hilton Nominees Ltd, will include retail and office space in an 1100sq m building, to be built by South Canterbury firm Thompson Construction and Engineering.
Hilton Nominees chairman Ken Buckingham would not disclose the cost of the project.
“I won’t disclose that information at this stage but can confirm that Robert Harris is the first confirmed tenant for the site,” he said.
The land has been owned by a group of shareholders, mostly South Canterbury-based, since 2007.
Mr Buckingham said the time was now right to develop it.
“For us, now’s the moment to do something with the land and build the retail complex.
“The design of the building is something we have been working on for a while and finalised earlier this year.”
Mr Buckingham said a start date for building the project would depend on the consent process.

“The right time”… A bird’s-eye view of the new retail development at 209 Hilton Highway, Timaru. IMAGE: SUPPLIED

The site was in a good location and would have good car parking, and the traffic lights offered good access to the complex, he said.
The development would have room for about four retail premises.
Having a first tenant was an exciting part of the project.
“We are very fortunate to have lots of space, which has allowed us to be more creative with the design, as well as offer extra car parking,” Mr Buckingham said.
“The design’s courtyard will offer a more European-styled environment, which is sure to be a hit with the Robert Harris customers.”
Robert Harris business development manager Rod de Lisle said the company saw Timaru as a “vibrant provincial city”.
“It’s lively and growing.”
The chain had a cafe in Stafford St about eight years ago, and was keen to reopen in Timaru, he said.
“It has been on our radar for a while.
“One of our most successful cafes is up the road, in Ashburton. Their customer base includes frequent travellers, many of whom have asked us to reopen a cafe in Timaru.”
Harris recently invested in a design makeover, encompassing a new look for its new cafes.
The company was looking for a franchisee for the Timaru cafe.