$23m retail and food hub under way

An artist's impression of the new retail and food hub, to be called River Crossing.

A new $23 million retail and food hub, to be called River Crossing, is a sure sign Mid Canterbury is definitely open for business, says Liz McMillan.

The deputy mayor joined developer Tricroft, anchor tenant Kmart and other main players in the project for a ceremonial shovelling of shingle this week.

River Crossing will be built alongside Countdown South, on South Street, and will share a bigger road entrance.

A new 300-car carpark will serve two buildings; one will house Kmart and Couplands Bakery, which will relocate from East Street, and the other will house Coffee Culture and other food and beverage businesses currently in negotiation to be tenants.

Work will begin early 2021, when old buildings on the site will be demolished and the ground levelled for construction.

The whole complex is expected to generate 150 new jobs, 70 alone in Kmart, and should be open by late 2022.

The Tricroft Properties team (from left) Sally Carr, Dave Williams, Tony Gilbert, Nicky Thomson and Kendall Spurgeon.

The development was planned pre-covid and Tricroft principal Dave Williams had no intention of letting the pandemic stop him investing in his home town.

He’s not a man who likes the limelight, but he was happy to host people important to the project this week.

A huge white shipping container has been moved onto the road frontage at the site and an artist’s impression of the development is fixed to it. It will be built by ACL and Thompson Construction.

Project manager Rebecca Thompson said it would be a straight forward development, with known good operators seeing beyond the immediate impact of covid.

“You have to plan positively for the future. People want to shop and buy food and drink. They are doing it for the community and it will bring real benefit for Ashburton.”

Tricroft general manager Tony Gilbert said it was great to start the complex after 10 years in the planning.”We are very excited. It has been a long time in the making.”

He said Kmart and the other stores would broaden the retail offering available to people of the district and stop retail leakage as people headed out of town to shop. A Market Economics report in March this year found nearly a third of retail spend by Ashburton residents was outside the district.

Kmart’s New Zealand country manager Jason Picard said the brand was a good fit for the community and the store would be open from 8am to midnight, seven days a week.

Recruiting for staff would begin three months ahead of opening. Kmart is also planning four more regional stores.

Coffee Culture’s Mike King and Maegan Attwood said they were excited to be coming to Ashburton, after looking for a spot for several years. Lance Coupland said Couplands would move to the new development as the building it currently leased needed strengthening.