Region’s ‘time to shine’

Chris Joblin says TGH wants to revitalise Hamilton’s CBD.

Chris Joblin says TGH wants to revitalise Hamilton’s CBD.

Waikato is poised for a bright future, according to Tainui Group Holdings’ chief executive, who has outlined an ambitious development programme to a Hamilton audience.

I see this is our moment, as a city, as a region, this is our time to shine. Our future is really, really bright,” Chris Joblin told a Grow Waikato event organised by Hamilton-based Labour MP Jamie Strange.

His wide-ranging presentation at Wintec’s Atrium included a projection of what a modernised city centre might look like as TGH eyes extensive office and apartment development.

“We are the largest landowner in the CBD. With the growth that is coming in this region, the time is right to think about what happens in the Hamilton CBD,” Joblin said.

“We think that the city could, and should look really different from what it looks like today.”

He cited Britomart and Melbourne laneways, saying that was the aspiration TGH wants to bring to the city.

“What we want to do is revitalise, regenerate that space in the CBD, and what we want to do is attract more people into the CBD, make it more modern, make it more attractive for people.”

He said sustainability is a focus, including around water and waste water, as well as extensive use of
public transport.

One part of the puzzle could be the disused underground railway station in the central city.

“If we have an underground railway station, think about what we can build around that, that will bring a whole lot more activity and purpose into the city.”

More immediately, “the first tower crane in the city for a while” is on site at Novotel Hamilton Tainui as the hotel adds 40 rooms, increasing the total to 217 rooms. The development will also see the restaurant-bar redone in a refresh of the food and beverage offering.

“Our aspirations to see those cranes in the city all the time. That means that we are growing and things are moving.”

Joblin said at some point in the future TGH would build another hotel in the city. “We don’t think the time is right to do that now, there’s not quite the demand, but once there is we will build another hotel in the CBD.”

Joblin also said affordability is one of the region’s competitive advantages. Te Karearea, alongside Wairere Drive, involves the building of 55 affordable homes alongside 20 homes built by Housing NZ, and he said it is a pilot for TGH, which ultimately aims for a much bigger scale.

Meanwhile, enabling infrastructure is being built for Ruakura. Joblin said the opening of the expressway was crucial in terms of the timing of development,  and the next big step will be putting in a connecting road.

The 480ha site at Ruakura will be able to take about 2 million sq m of warehousing, he said.

TGH is already fielding about one inquiry a week, typically from Auckland companies who have no room to grow where they are and whose employees struggle to afford to live there.

Joblin said a comparison of Ruakura with Auckland saw a saving for importers in supply chain costs of 25 percent, while exporters moving to Ruakura could save up to 40 percent, partly because of the efficiencies associated with containers coming in full and leaving full.

“The numbers are staggering and as Auckland gets more and more broken, the more compelling this
proposition gets.

“I see that as a region we are going to be the logistics zone of the country.”

Joblin said Ports of Auckland would move at some stage and that the Firth of Thames could become its new home, which would be “massive” for Waikato.

“We’ve got to be thinking a lot more strategically, not the here and now, but 10, 15, 20 years ahead. But it’s all there, we’ve just got to turn it on.

“This is our place, our time as a region and we’re really proud to be a part of it.”


About Author