Each week 85 people move to Hamilton. With the huge Peacocke housing development planned to the south, construction of Ruakura Inland Port to the east, and a $60 million regional theatre planned, Hamilton is seeing massive growth.
July was a mammoth month for Hamilton. A Government announcement that it had accepted Hamilton City Council’s application for a $272 million interest free 10-year loan to begin building the Peacocke subdivision was followed days later by an announcement of a Victoria St river location for the proposed $60 million regional theatre project.
In recent months Tainui Group Holdings announced that it has begun earthworks and found a port partner for its huge $3 billion inland port at Ruakura.
The growth these projects will bring is physical and real – Peacocke subdivision adds 720 hectares to the city and the Inland Port another 480 hectares, redefining Hamilton’s boundaries to the south and east. Unlike recent massive growth to the north, Peacocke and Ruakura Inland Port’s relatively close proximity to central Hamilton can only boost activity in the CBD.
Peacocke will bring 3700 new houses over 10 years and 8100 over 30 years while the inland port will ultimately include a large housing subdivision, a 60 hectare logistics zone and a large commercial area. Ultimately, the port is tipped to create at least 6000 new jobs and make up eight percent of the city’s land area.
The proposed regional theatre at the historic Hamilton Hotel looms as icing on the cake.
No wonder Hamilton City Council is talking up the potential to attract people and business to the city.
The council’s general manger for city growth Kelvyn Eglinton has recently conducted forums in the business community to explain how the council is going to pitch the city as a place to invest in on a website ‘Hamilton Invest’.
“We got the message that we need to do something to start telling the story of Hamilton,” he says. “You need to do something that tells of its economy and lifestyle, we need to do something that is better coordinated and a central place for investment.”
“Hamilton Invest” will act as a central landing point for potential investors giving them detailed information on economic information, costs, resources and investment opportunities in Hamilton and its surrounding areas. The website is scheduled to go live on July 31.
The initiative rides on the back of incredible growth. Last year 4400 people came to live in Hamilton – “a busload full each week”, as Kelvyn puts it.
“We expect that to be about the same in 2017 on current numbers,” he says.
“When the market took off in 2013 we were building around 600 houses a year. The next year we were up to 1200 and we’ve held those numbers every year since.”
The council’s partnership with the Government through its Housing Accord and the Housing Infrastructure Fund loan could see those annual numbers climb to 1500 or even 1700 dwellings a year in coming years.
“Why are we taking this approach around telling the story and being better coordinated? Because we have these competitive advantages and we don’t tell the story,” says Kelvyn.
“We don’t tell people that we are within a 90 minute drive of half the country’s population. We don’t tell them that we have affordable residential and industrial land. We have the highest percentage of high value workforce in the country – a higher proportion of knowledge intensive employees than Auckland and the rest of New Zealand. Yet we know some businesses don’t come here because they don’t think we have the workforce they require.”
“People don’t realise how strong our economy is. The Hamilton economy is worth $7.6 billion and Waikato economy $21 billion.”
Kelvyn says investment planned in the CBD will have a significant impact.
“We know there are call centres coming from Wellington and Auckland, we know there are hotel projects doing due diligence at the moment, there’s the DHB building in Collingwood St, the Genesis building in Bryce St and the Anglesea St Medical Centre. That’s another 1500 people a day coming into the CBD in the next 12 months.”
“Adding to that we’ll see many more apartments in the city over the next 12 to 18 months. That also will make a significant change to the CBD.”
– Geoff Taylor is also a Hamilton City Councillor.