2 June 2022

Major industrial development flagged for Awarua ‘unlike anything seen in New Zealand’

Awarua near Invercargill is poised to be the site of one of Australasia’s largest industrial projects, following the acquisition of 513ha of land by property and construction firm Calder Stewart.

Calder Stewart announced the acquisition and future development of the industrial-zoned land about 10km from Invercargill on Wednesday, stating the development was positioned to become a flagship for economic development in the south.

“The size and scale of the new project is unlike anything previously seen in New Zealand and a cohesive, strategic approach is now being planned at Awarua,” it said.

The former dairy farm land was bought by the Invercargill City Council between 2006 and 2008, over four stages for a total of $9.505 million, with intentions to facilitate industrial development.

The council sold 513ha of the original 600ha purchase last year for an undisclosed price, and retained the remaining 87ha.

Calder Stewart executive director Alan Stewart said it would be working closely with the council, local business leaders and mana whenua from Awarua Rūnanga on the new endeavour.

“We are proud to help realise the initial vision of the ICC. It’s about maintaining and increasing the economic capability of Invercargill, strengthening the surrounding Southland region and local communities, and unlocking the potential opportunity of the land.”

Direct lines from Manapouri may provide clean energy to future tenants and Calder Stewart has high expectations for the sustainability credentials of Awarua.

Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt said the Awarua development would be a massive leap forward for the future of the city. “The scale, scope and repercussions for the benefit of Invercargill are monumental.”

Shadbolt was mayor when the council made the decision to purchase the land in 2006 “for just such a development”.

Richard King, chief executive of the council at the time, said it purchased the land and rezoned it for industrial use because once South Pacific Meats and Open Country Dairy were established, the council had no other industrial land.

“We knew it was close to the Bluff port, State Highway 1, Tiwai and Invercargill, so we bought it for strategic purposes for future industrial development … I am very pleased.”

Great South chairman and interim chief executive Ian Collier said: “The fact Calder Stewart has got the confidence to go ahead with a project of that scale is proof the region is heading in the right direction.”

Southland Chamber of Commerce president Neil McAra said having 500 hectares available for businesses would be a major attraction and would bring opportunities for Southland.

There were discussions in the south around clean energy, hydrogen, data centres, aquaculture and other manufacturing sectors.

“There are a number of industries that could take advantage of this great opportunity … it is another piece in the puzzle to ensure the future prosperity of Southland.”

Chamber chief executive Sheree Carey said the announcement showed Southland was being taken seriously as an economic powerhouse. “It is a massive project with so much potential.”

It follows other large-scale developments such as the central city rebuild and ILT Langlands Hotel, she said.

“The next five years here is going to be insane.”

Stewart, of Calder Stewart, said it was expected areas of the site would be earmarked for protection, while others would be flagged for regeneration, with renewable energy and innovative sustainability a focus for the company.

By prioritising these initiatives and carefully developing the site to scale, the company anticipates considerable national and international interest in the major new development.

Calder Stewart has been behind key Southland developments such as the ILT Velodrome, Bill Richardson Transport World and Kmart.

Calder Stewart national land acquisition development manager Ben Stewart said it was in the early stages of master planning for the site, which would assist with attracting occupiers.

“We see this very much as a long-term play for the Southland region,” he said.

As it was still in the initial master planning stages, which included deciding where and to what extent roading and infrastructure was required, Stewart was unable to provide a firm estimate on the cost of developing the site.

No resource consent had been applied for as the land was already zoned heavy industrial and Calder Stewart was only in the master planning stage, he said.

“It will be a substantial investment to unlock the land from farmland to development-ready industrial land,” he said.

“What is great is the council has already zoned the land industrial which provides a fantastic platform for us.”

“We anticipate the Awarua development will have a positive impact on the local economy.”

Nigel Gear, chief executive of South Port in Bluff, said the Awarua site’s close proximity to the port meant it was nicely positioned for import, export or coastal shipping opportunities.

The port would welcome any development that was good for Southland and environmentally sustainable and that provided skilled employment opportunities, Gear said.

Source: Stuff.co.nz – June 1 2022

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