Tenants still on board for retail development

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Awaiting development . . . Timaru's former A&P showgrounds are earmarked for a retail complex similar to the Five Mile Shopping Centre in Queenstown. PHOTO: COURIER FILES

by Chris Tobin

Covid-19 has not daunted a developer and his plans for Timaru’s former A&P Showgrounds.

Redwood QT developer Tony Gapes, of Auckland, announced late last year a $90million retail development on the land that would create, he said, 600 jobs.

Redwood QT bought the land from the Timaru District Council’s financial arm, Timaru District Holdings Ltd, for an undisclosed sum. A period of due diligence has not yet been completed on the sale.

Mr Gapes said retailers who were expected to move into the development were still on board.

“Yes, we are more of a large-format open-air mall, which is what all the retailers want to go into.

“All our anchors did very well over the lockdown period.”

Mr Gapes has not disclosed who the anchor tenants will be, although he said the development would be similar to one of his projects, the Five Mile Shopping Centre in Queenstown.

Last year, Mr Gapes also filed a resource consent application to build two seven-storey hotel buildings in Gorge Rd, Queenstown.

He said the purchase price for the A&P showgrounds remained confidential.

In 2017, Timaru District Holdings paid $6.296million for the land. It said last year a “commercial return” had been achieved with the sale to Redwood QT.

Central city retailers expressed concern to The Courier when the sale was announced that it would drain the bigger retail chain operators and others out of the central city. Many building owners in Stafford St also faced the prospect of highly expensive earthquake strengthening work in coming years.

A Timaru District Holdings spokesperson said shortly after the sale announcement CBD retailer fears had been considered in its decision to sell.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that the impact of any new development in the area is done in a way that minimises any effects on the CBD.

“This includes setting the maximum number of units to nine, setting a minimum floor size to 600sqm and holding agreements for the developer to bring new shopping experiences to town and not target existing Stafford St retailers.

“We’re helping bring major new and in-demand retailers to Timaru, which will reduce the number of people having to head to Dunedin or Christchurch, while at the same time working to protect what makes our city special.”

Mr Gapes was planning on work starting later this year.

“We hope to get going in November, with the first stage completed towards the end of 2021.”