More than half a billion dollars pumped into Pāpāmoa ‘hot spot’

By Zoe Hunter,

More than half-a-billion dollars of construction activity is under way in Pāpāmoa East that is estimated to create more than 1000 jobs.

The news comes after the Bay of Plenty Times revealed Pāpāmoa’s population is predicted to climb more than 11,000 to reach 40,339 people by 2028.

A total of 270 houses are being built – worth an estimated $95 million in total. A 287-unit retirement village, worth $150m, is also under way.

A $100m business park is also being built as are two primary schools on Golden Sands Drive and Te Okuroa Drive valued at about $64m.

With Bluehaven’s $25m nearly completed Excelsa Centre and an array of private and public infrastructure, the total estimate of building activity in the area amounted to more than $500m.

Bluehaven Group chief executive Nathan York is calling Pāpāmoa East the “hot spot” of the city – with some people paying to go on builders’ waiting lists to have a home built.

York said the level of housing demand had been strong in Golden Sands, Pāpāmoa, because there was very little scope for new builds in Tauranga.

There were about 2000 new houses planned for Pāpāmoa, ahead of the new Te Tumu growth catchment area.

However, York said the lack of further infrastructure investment may stifle the ability to deliver new homes.

“For this area to prosper, new houses to be built, and the jobs and economic activity to continue to flourish, we need investment in infrastructure to come to fruition.”

Some of this investment includes the Pāpāmoa East Interchange, as well as community amenities such as an aquatic centre, library, indoor sports facilities and multiple new playground reserves.

“With Pāpāmoa being the largest and fastest-growing suburb in Tauranga, and along with Western Bay being one of the fastest-growing regions of New Zealand in the last 12 months, we need investment in this community’s future now, not tomorrow.”

Bluehaven Group advisers, Urban Economics, estimated the $500m worth of projects under way equated to 1050 full-time equivalent jobs being supported through the construction phase.

York expected the Excelsa Centre would be completed by the end of this month and all tenants to be trading in time for Christmas.

The housing sector had seen a strong increase in demand post-Covid, he said, with low-interest rates, strong investor demand and more net migration particularly out of Auckland.

“Couple that with reduced stock available and the infill or intensification strategy, which is going to be a slow burn in Tauranga, all those things create a perfect storm.”

York said they were moving as hard as they could to complete the 170 houses under construction in Golden Sands, plus the civil works for 250-plus residential lots.

Infrastructure works on more than 382 new residential lots in Pāpāmoa East was also under way.

“We’re just trying to fulfil the demand requirement at the moment. This is without a doubt the hot spot of Tauranga.”

York said a lot of the builders had extensive waiting lists.

“In some cases, people pay to be on those waiting lists.”

The key to the suburb’s future was the Waiariki Town Centre, which he would reveal more information on soon.

“That is the ultimate end game for our Pāpāmoa East.”

Generation Homes regional partner Lyndon Marshall said they had built more than 100 homes in Pāpāmoa East in the past three years.

“We have about 60 builds on the go across the Bay at the moment and about 50 per cent of those are in Pāpāmoa.

“We’ve got a waitlist and we are getting people paying to hold properties … We haven’t seen this urgency since 2015/2016,” Marshall said.

Carrus general manager Scott Adams said about 50 two-to-three storey townhouses would be included in the $100m Pāpāmoa Junction business park.

“We’ve got 43 commercial lots and 70 per cent have pre-sold.”

Adams said the $500m investment would help to cope with the current demand but the future had a “big question mark” on where the money was going to come from to fund the infrastructure to provide for the future growth.

“Everyone is flocking to the Bay and for good reason.

“Over the next 30 years, the Western Bay sub-region needs 40,000 houses to cater for the population growth. Pāpāmoa East is only going to provide about 8000 houses.

“The others are going to have to come from Tauriko and the rest is up to the Te Papa corridor.”

He said there needed to be a collaboration between the Crown and private and public sectors as to how the infrastructure will be provided for the Pāpāmoa East and Rangiuru Interchanges.

Summerset chief executive Julian Cook said sales at Summerset at the Dunes, their first retirement village in Tauranga, were tracking well.

Cook said more than 350 people will call Summerset by the Dunes home once the retirement village was completed.

Summerset by the Dunes was on track to be completed around 2025.

Refinery Studios co-owner Greg Stapleton officially opened his hair salon and barbershop in the Excelsa Centre on August 7 this year.

Stapleton said his staff was growing to about eight people and most lived and worked either in or close to the area.

Stapleton said there had been “huge growth” in the area.

“I was really surprised to find out the population in the area and with future plans for housing development and shopping complexes, there is a bit of vision and growth here.

“Plus given the current economic climate, this is pretty much where you want to be.”

Stapleton said feedback from clients has been that the area had grown from a retirement area to attracting many young families.

“There’s been a real surge in young families who see the potential here.”

Papa Mo’s co-owner Luke van Veen opened the two-storey bar and restaurant in the Excelsa Centre in September 2018.

He said they chose to open in Pāpāmoa East because of the area’s potential for growth.

“It is local businesses that drive the economy, employment, relationships and growth.”

Te Okuroa Drive School Board of Trustees chairwoman Rebecca Keating said the investment in Pāpāmoa East was great to see and much-needed.

“The population growth in this area, especially the increased numbers of primary school-aged children we see now and, on their way, to schooling, is placing incredible pressure on the existing schools.

“With further subdivision and house construction occurring, this pressure will continue, requiring more schools to be planned and constructed in future years.”

Te Okuroa Drive will provide 650 local and additional school places for Year 1 to 6 children.

Keating said the Board was confident the construction process will be finished months in advance of opening at the start of Term 1 2022