If you look at these sites you’d think nothing much has changed in the last two years – and you’d be right.
But we’ve worked incredibly hard behind the scenes – just ask Janet on the Council reception desk how many times she’s seen me, my team, and the professional consultants from Spencer Holmes Limited.
Through 2013 and early 2014 we worked on a major retail outlet for the Logan Street site, but in the end we just could not get the car parking and planning issues resolved with Council.
But we love a challenge and since then we have worked on the plan you see above. It’s very exciting. Every step along the way we’ve been working with Council, and they have been directing us so as to ensure consistency with their Masterplan for the City.
They’ve even told us some of the retailers and operators they think we should sign up!!
It is fantastic as a community that we created the CBD Reinvigoration Fund last year. As the largest single rate payer in Upper Hutt, I am the largest pro rata contributor to it, and we need to utilise this Fund to get this project off the ground. Last month on 11 February 2015, the plan you see above was presented to a full Council meeting – it received their unanimous support, and their approval for the Fund to be applied to this project. We all recognise it will be great to have a CBD in which we want to shop and spend our leisure time, where we can have a bite to eat, a drink, watch a movie, and enjoy the environment. That’s a massive step forward from the burnt out and derelict buildings we have now.
Council have i’s to dot and t’s to cross but I am ready to go as soon as they give me the final green light.
In readiness I already have –
- An Australian retailer new to Upper Hutt with a fantastic offering who has signed up for an 1100 sqm super store. This store will be ready to open in July 2015 if we start work now. The schedule is tight as several million dollars of stock for that store has to be consolidated and ocean freighted in May to support that opening, as well as the completion of substantial fitout works that is my responsibility. But I have the ribbon. Wayne has his trusty scissors ready.
- A new cinema operator to rebrand and reopen the Cinemas
- Five letters of intent from other retailers and operators for deals we can progress once we get the green light from Council
- Buildings consents ready to issue from council, provided some fire wall planning issues get resolved
Tenders from builders who are ready to start works
- I have already grown our team to ensure we have the resourcing in place to deliver the project as planned
We are not just drawing pretty pictures and pontificating – we are ready to start building and deliver.
Just so you know we have also been putting “our money where our mouth is” over the last period. We have recently spent $400,000 in incentives to retain existing retailers and attract new ones to The Mall. So we don’t just talk about “community” – we measure up pretty well on what we are actually doing.
It’s easy to try to make issues that are really hard and challenging someone else’s problem. Our Upper Hutt City Council has had terrible press – probably the worst I have come across in some time. But I believe the Hon. Wayne Guppy our Mayor, and Chris Upton The Chief Executive Officer of the Upper Hutt City Council, when they tell me they are absolutely committed to delivering the best possible outcome for our community. I offer them our complete support as they try to work through the final sign off on the complex regulations and policies, and the final drafting of the legal documents to provide me the green light to get on and deliver the outcomes we all want, and the Upper Hutt CBD needs.
I hope the reward for all the hard work is just around the corner. I certainly hope so, because it’s our last chance and we can’t afford for this plan to slip through our fingers as well. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing you for a coffee or a drink at one of our new offerings in the not too distant future, or bumping into you at the opening of one of our new retailers.
One last thing – if Council can dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”, then if we combine the “Logan Street site” with
“The Mall” what would you like to call the new overall complex? We are overdue this fresh start, this project will create a renewed sense of pride about the heart of our town, and therefore I believe we deserve a new name to reflect this new beginning.
Source: Fairfax Media, Upper Hutt Leader edition 18th March 2015