Ruakaka development the hub of community
Whangarei project manager and design consultant Peter Ferguson says the success of a project of the scale and nature of the expansion and upgrade of Ruakaka’s town centre came down to a number of important factors.
Peter was chosen by developer Ken Orr, to provide design and project consultancy services and to liaise with project principal, well known Whangareibased company Guyco Construction.
“Guyco had a close working relationship with Ken Orr. They have supplied construction services to other projects Ken has undertaken so it was just a logical decision to use Guyco again, given their successful history,” says Peter.
Ken ﬁrst contacted Peter back in June 2016 to look at the proposal of relocating some existing businesses and expanding the shopping complex, upgrading infrastructure such as carparking to better service the future needs of the rapidly growing Ruakaka district, some 30 km south of Whangarei.
A 20-year master plan was developed with the four new shops intended to sit in this much larger picture. “The ﬁ rst critical step was to establish a clear working brief and to scope all works,”: says Peter.
“Ken wanted to use local businesses wherever possible. It was very signiﬁcant to the success of the new construction that the owner had organised tenants prior to beginning construction.”
Because of this, each shop’s design was able to cater speciﬁcally for the individual needs of the retail business that would operate from within.
When dealing with food retail, for example, a large number of complex regulations around food handling, health and safety of staff and customers comes into play so to be able to design with these requirements in mind made the building process extremely accurate and efﬁcient. “We didn’t have any planning issues crop up because we were dealing with certainty right from the start.
“Once we had all the information as to speciﬁc infrastructural needs we could incorporate exactly what was required into each build.”
Peter says key to taking on projects such as the Ruakaka Town Centre development is to gather all the information together with a view to the longerterm and increase in demand and to build-in all the often unseen structures to future-proof the project. Car-parking is a good example.
“You want to be thinking about what matters to customers visiting the shops and the number and size of carpark spaces is critical. Today, more and more vehicles are SUV’s and the like, much bigger than cars, so to provide a larger car-park makes the whole experience much more enjoyable, guaranteeing that customers will return again and again.”
Ruakaka Town Centre is the hub of the community, adjacent to Bream Bay College, Kindergarten, the town’s rec centre, library, district council service centre, police etc.
With the purchase of the adjacent tavern the footprint of the town-centre, once completed will be four times its original size, including 630+ carpark spaces.
The centre is home to a supermarket, health services, bank, restaurant and food outlets. Peter also says that professional trust in the choice of the contractor was a vital factor in just how well the build went.
“If you have an owner who pulls together a team he fully trusts to make all the million decisions that have to be made then you’re a large way to realising a great project and that is what the Ruakaka Town Centre development has been. Guyco Construction has a skilled team of experienced operators with a proven track-record.”
Peter says that another important element in the development was the attitude of the owner to not skimp on development costs.
“A lot of developers are very incredibly cost conscious. It is all about rate of return and as a result they will put in the minimum but with this development we were thinking about the shopping experience, about providing a legacy as a town centre for future generations.”
With a population forecast to reach 5000 by 2023 Ruakaka Town Centre looks set to evolve into a vibrant, welcoming retail and service precinct designed to meet the needs of its community generations into the future.
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