Full steam ahead for CBD construction

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Local developers are making the running amid a surge of commercial development in central Hamilton.

The flagship Union Square got underway as soon as lockdown restrictions eased enough for building to start, with AA Insurance and Rabobank named as tenants in the first building on the corner of Anglesea and Hood Streets.

Meanwhile, Stark Properties is extending Panama Square on Garden Place while also progressing Tristram Precinct and, across the river, Hills Apartments.

The cranes are also up at 183 Collingwood Street in a Foster development, while an extensive Urban Homes refurbishment on the corner of Anglesea and London Streets is nearing completion.

Urban Homes is set to move into the building in September, with chief executive Daniel Klinkenberg saying the shift was driven by Urban’s rapid growth over the past five years. They will occupy all four floors, with the capacity for a roof pod in future, and Klinkenberg sings the praises of the builders, Foster Construction, and architect, Edwards White.

The building features extensive glazing, partly aimed at showcasing the original building’s structure. They have also carried out significant earthquake strengthening to bring it up to a Class A building, with K braces visible through the glass that run from ground floor to the top floor.

The move comes four years after Urban Homes relocated into a nearby building on Anglesea Street.

“We really like the CBD; it’s close and central for our clients, and it’s exciting to be a part of the revitalisation of the central city,” Klinkenberg says.

Construction is set for October on the Tainui Group Holdings $50m-plus build for ACC on the corner of Collingwood and Tristram Sts, adding around 8500 square metres of office space. TGH chief executive Chris Joblin acknowledges his team’s hard work both for that build and for the opening of the 40 room Novotel extension since lockdown.

October is also likely to see construction start on the $73 million Waikato Regional Theatre, after Heritage NZ approval for a redesign to avoid an urupā site and with a deferment of the boutique hotel amid uncertainty over the international tourism market.

“We’re just confirming the last due diligence on pricing and contractors, with Fosters being the preferred contractor,” says Momentum Waikato chief executive Kelvyn Eglinton.

Throw into the mix a planned 67-room hotel complex on Hood Street and the prospect of TGH developing its site on the corner of Victoria and Ward Streets, and the city centre will start to take on a new look as Waikato developers make their mark.

Joblin sees TGH having a responsibility. “We need to make sure that these projects and programmes get going because they are going to create employment, and they’re going to create a vibe and a vibrancy for our city and our region. I’m a strong believer that Hamilton and Waikato’s moment is yet to come. Geographically, we have great positioning, we have a strong economic base, strong iwi,  all the tools are there for our region to really shine and go forward both economically and socially.

“I think we’re in a great position and people are just starting to see that now outside the region and that’s where you are starting to see that inward investment.”

The Panama Square development involves connecting three neighbouring buildings and making them all co-working spaces, with a cafe, Cream, on the ground floor. Matt Stark expects to finish the development at the end of July. Tristram Precinct, which will hold Waikato Regional Council and WSP (formerly Opus), is set for completion in February. Hills Apartments are currently under construction and Stark is reporting strong buyer interest with 70 percent of the first stage sold.

Meanwhile, a further boost for Hamilton has come with the announcement of $16.8m in PGF funding for roading works to enable progress on the Ruakura inland port. That sum will be matched by TGH, with $5m also coming from the city council.

The investments will collectively fund a new city link to the expressway (Ruakura Road West) and a new port access connection.

Joblin says their construction programme on both the roading network and the inland port will start in alignment with the new construction season in October, and should see them both open at the same time as the Hamilton section of the expressway, likely to be early 2022. That will see an operating inland port with rail sidings off the main trunk line and a working area for handling containers.

The first stage will be about 9ha with the capacity to handle 50,000 containers, a number set to rise to a million once the full port is finished.

“I think what’s really important for us is getting these projects up and going as quickly as we can, so that we can provide employment opportunities for within our region, and also signalling to the construction companies and others what we are planning so that they can see that there’s that pipeline of work as well, that will enable them to provide security to their
workforce.

“We think that there’s plenty of capacity and this gives the opportunity for those skills and workforce to be recycled into any project.”

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