The Whakatāne District Council has entered into an agreement to purchase a site of strategic importance in the Whakatāne town centre, to enable future development as part of the Town Centre Regeneration programme.
The purchase includes the lessee’s interests in, and the buildings and improvements on, a group of six properties at the western end of The Strand – at 266, 268 and 270 The Strand; and 39, 41 and 45 McAlister Street.

The Council already owns the underlying land, so by buying the lessee’s interests, it is essentially buying back the right to occupy the land, as well as the buildings and improvements. Settlement will take place on 1 July 2019, on a vacant possession basis. Council Chief Executive Steph O’Sullivan says this will enable the site to be master-planned for potential redevelopment as part of the Whakatāne Waterfront and Town Centre Regeneration

“This project brings together work-streams to deliver a redeveloped wharf and enhanced waterfront and town centre, enabling growth in the District’s tourism and marine economies, for the benefit of
the wider community,” she explains. “A business case for the project is in the early stages of being developed for co-funding support consideration by the Government’s Provincial Development Unit (PDU).”
Ms O’Sullivan says the lessee’s interests in the properties became available following the retirement of legendary local businessman Wally Sutherland, after some 66 years’ involvement in the motor trade.
“Mr Sutherland’s decision to sell his lessee’s interests has created an opportunity to acquire a large, strategically-located site, which will provide a pathway for the Council to carry out its placemaking role. This also signals to the PDU that Council is ready to take an active participatory role in the town centre regeneration programme and will have a land-holding available to initiate positive change, on a similar scale to projects which have been successfully implemented in other centres,” she adds.
She says the Council’s Commercial Advisory Board strongly advocated that the lessee’s interests in the properties be secured.

The purchase is being funded from harbour fund reserves and will therefore have no impact on District rates. A report on short- to medium-term options for the buildings on the site will be prepared for Council consideration in the near future.