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Timaru’s old A&P Showgrounds have been sold provisionally to a retail developer for more than Timaru District Holdings Ltd (TDHL) paid for the property two years ago.

In 2017 TDHL paid $6.296million.

“A commercial return on the property was achieved,” a TDHL spokesman said.

The property has been sold to Auckland company Redwood QT Ltd but still remained subject to due diligence.

When the sale was announced last week, concerns were expressed that the retail development could drain retailers and businesses out of Timaru’s CBD and Stafford St.

The TDHL spokesman said they had covered these concerns.

“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 600sq m and holding agreements for the developer to bring new shopping experiences to town and not target existing Stafford St retailers.”

Reactions from Stafford St retailers spoken to by The Courier ranged from “we’ll wait and see” to “it’s the last nail in the coffin”.

One retailer said, when learning of the development, she considered not renewing her lease.

“It will take people out of the main street. There were 28 empty shops in Stafford St this year. They need to link with the whole of the CBD to make it vibrant.”

Another retailer and property owner said he hoped a fair rating system would apply and that the type of shops for the development were not already in the main street.

“The rates have not gone down. We have one of the largest rates in New Zealand per land value.

“I hope they will be rated as well as what we are.”

Timaru CBD property owner Gaire Thompson hoped the TDHL ensured restrictions to minimise any possible drift from the CBD were enforced.

“You don’t want to have as happened in Hamilton where there was a development at Te Rapa and the heart of Hamilton became dead.”

TDHL was optimistic about the new planned development.

“We think this will be a really positive outcome for the community.

“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.”

The purchase price would not be made public until the middle of next year when the due diligence was expected to be completed.