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Proposed Nelson Urban Precinct

Cephas Property is proposing a compact, mixed use urban precinct with office and retail space that would transform two of Nelson’s busiest streets and bring life to the heart of the city.

The early concept proposal envisages multi-storey buildings, highly connected laneways with high roofs and lots of glazing, and a wide mix of shops. Spaces would start at 10 sq m, affordable for small independent retailers.

Half the project would be formed from redeveloping current office and retail space at 31-55 Bridge Street and 126 Trafalgar Street, with the rest coming from the proposed sale of part of Wakatu Square car park. The car park area is needed for an anchor tenant building in order for the project to go ahead.

The precinct will build on Nelson’s bustling small city vibe, and attract local and national brands to create a superior shopping, office and food experience.

Nelson City Council is consulting on the proposal to sell approximately 2,425 sq m of Wakatu Square car park until 2 May 2019. Nelson City Council have indicated at a minimum, car park numbers would not be reduced if the land is sold due to the creation of additional adjacent parking.

Frequently Asked Questions – Proposed Urban Precinct

Does Nelson need a new retail development?

In our view the current strip retail environment in Nelson is not serving Nelson shoppers, and the current offer of property stock is not providing acceptable or desirable solutions for many retailers.  

We believe Nelson needs a space that customers enjoy and want to visit, that will intensify the retail landscape and bring life to the heart of the city and re-energise it.  This is what we are proposing, and what we believe is currently missing from the CBD.

In any case, this is only partially a ‘new’ development – 60 per cent of the space would come from redeveloping existing retail and office space on Trafalgar Street and Bridge Street. The remaining 40 per cent (part of Wakatu Square car park) is needed for an anchor tenant and we have strong interest from Farmers for this space. This means there will be little ‘new’ retail space created.

A quarter of the space being developed is for offices – not retail.

Are you proposing a mall for Nelson?

No. We are not proposing a mall which most people would perceive as a large, sprawling suburban shopping centre. We are proposing a compact urban infill precinct servicing the needs of CBD professionals, tourists and locals with retail, dining and office space that is directly integrated with the CBD.

How big will the development be?

In terms of retail space, it would be one third the size of Richmond Mall retail space.

In terms of total site area, it would be one tenth the size of the Richmond Mall complex, up to and including Upper Queen Street (The Warehouse, Kmart etc).

60 per cent of the development would come from existing office and retail space on Bridge and Trafalgar Streets.

How will this precinct revitalise the city given the empty shops we already have?

In our view the current strip retail environment in Nelson is not serving Nelson shoppers, and the current offer of property stock is not providing acceptable or desirable solutions for many retailers.  

There is also a whole lot of under-utilised space that doesn’t serve the customer.

By providing a higher quality, intensified space and carefully curating and managing the mix and type of retail, we plan to increase trade and bring more people, more money, and new retailers to Nelson. We also hope that our investment will encourage other landlords to invest, lifting Nelson’s game as a whole. 

What tenants do you plan to put into the centre?

It is too early to go into the market or plan in any detail the retail mix as we don’t have certainty over acquiring enough land yet for it to go ahead.

What will it look like and how will the precinct integrate with the CBD?

The precinct is currently planned to front onto two of Nelson’s busiest streets – Bridge Street and Trafalgar Street. There would be multiple entrances connecting the precinct to the CBD, including open-aired and roofed laneways. These entrances would spill out into Bridge and Trafalgar Streets, stimulating and intensifying activity for surrounding properties and businesses.

Edges of the precinct, including the Wakatu Square entrance, will either be attractive streetscapes with active retail frontages or glass looking into the common area. The other edges will integrate seamlessly with existing buildings.

We are at very early concept stage, but we see it including multi-storey buildings, highly connected laneways with high rooves and lots of glazing, and a wide mix of large and small shops. The laneways will not be as wide as those often seen in malls, to provide an intimacy appropriate to the city – the scale is more akin to Nelson Central walkway off Trafalgar Street.

We will be consulting with Nelson City Council’s Urban Design Panel. This will support our goal to create a high-quality development that is a fantastic addition to Nelson’s unique city environment.

What about parking?

Nelson City Council has indicated that at a minimum, car park numbers would not be reduced. Cephas Property may support more parking in the vicinity including multi-level car parking options.

What is the timescale?

We are at very early stages of the plan. The initial step is a Nelson City Council consultation on the potential sale of part of Wakatu Square car park. There will be a number of further steps in the process including seeking resource consent. Should the development go ahead, it is likely to be several years away.

Nelson is known for its smaller independent retailers. Will they be catered for?

Yes. Spaces will be small enough to be affordable for small independent retailers and will start at 10 sq m. There will also be spaces facing roadways should retailers not want to part of the common area.  

Where would the anchor tenant (potentially Farmers) be located?

The new part of the development, where the car park currently is, would provide the bulk of space for an anchor tenant – we have strong interest from Farmers. This would enable Farmers to provide a fuller offer and service to Nelson shoppers via one unified store, rather than the two they are currently in.

Will the rents be competitive? How will they compare with the rest of the city?  

It is too early to say what rents will be as we are several years away from realising this plan, and the market changes, but we are not building this development for it to stand empty – we will set rents that attract retailers. 

Aren’t retailers moving online? Is this development viable long term?  

In-store retail is changing to focus on customer experience. Our focus is on creating a space that customers enjoy and want to visit. These kind of spaces are still busy all across the world.  The online world will never be able to replicate the sights, sounds, smells and feelings people get in popular marketplaces.

Across the retail industry, product-based retailers are coming to the understanding that they need online and bricks and mortar sales channels. Many service-based retailers are not affected by online sales and never will be.

We are confident we can create a vibrant hub for Nelson that will be successful long-term. Otherwise we wouldn’t be considering this major investment in the city.  

Have you considered housing as part of this development?

Our key objective for this proposal is to provide higher quality retail and office space than that currently available in Nelson. In doing so, we will achieve intensifying people numbers in the area and provide another great reason to spend time in the CBD. We have considered whether inner city living could be part of the current plan but do not think it possible due to the increased cost and complexity of doing so.  

 If the decision by Nelson City Council is not to go ahead with the sale of the car park, what would happen to this proposal?

The car park space is required for a CBD anchor tenant building, and without the anchor tenant the development will not be viable. If we are unable to undertake this project then we have other interesting options out of Nelson that might hold our attention.

What about closing Wakatu Lane off from Trafalgar Street?

We are aware that this entry is used by buses and cross-town traffic. Our view is that buses should be using the ring road system and be removed from the cross town traffic.  This will make Nelson CBD more pedestrian friendly.