Investing in Stratford

Investing in Stratford


Multi-million dollar Stratford development

Five buildings in Stratford’s CBD  – one dating from the late 1800s – could be demolished to make way for a multi-million dollar redevelopment. Father and son developers David and Jason Kowalewski have bought four buildings along the western side of Broadway. The Kowalewskis have now released plans to knock down the site, including the Hunter & Lyons building erected in 1898, to make room for a large development that would include eight retail spaces.

Although their plans have yet to be formally submitted, the pair have also talked to the Stratford District Council (SDC) about demolishing the council-owned ANZ building, which sits adjacent to their site at the entrance to Prospero Place.

The council has considered removing the ANZ building in the past and while it wasn’t directly included in the SDC’s Stratford 2035: Making it Real plan for the town, which includes the Future of Broadway project, mayor Neil Volzke mentioned the issue when it was launched last month.

Jason Kowalewski said they weren’t trying to push the council to remove the building, but were simply trying to show what could be done if it was demolished. “Our project doesn’t hinge on it, it just makes our project make a bit more sense,” he said. “We’re trying to achieve the same prospect as them, which is opening up Prospero Place.”

Volzke said the council had requested a report on the ANZ building for next year and would gather as much information as possible before making a decision about whether to keep it. The bank’s lease won’t expire until 2018, so there was no rush to make a decision, he said. A number of other shops in the Kowalewski-owned buildings have leases that go into 2018 and Jason said work on the site wouldn’t start until they had expired.

ANZ spokesman Stefan Herrick said they planned on staying in the town regardless of what the council decided. “We have good support from our customers in Stratford and will maintain a branch in town as long as that support continues,” he said.

The Kowalewskis opened the Amity Court Motel at the northern end of Stratford in 2009 and said the new Broadway development was a continuation of their investment in the town, where their family had lived for six generations. “There’s better ways for us to invest money but we chose it because we love this town,” Jason said. “This is our roots and we want to see it grow.” They hope to kickstart development in the town by bringing in new retail stores and showing other developers that Stratford is a viable place to invest. “The main point is to get people to stop in Stratford and to get them to stop in that area so they stay a bit longer, they fall in love with the town and want to live there,” Jason said.

They were hoping to attract bigger retail chains, would encourage residents to shop local instead of heading to New Plymouth and Hawera. According to figures released by the Venture Taranaki Trust last month, Stratford residents spent $28.38 million outside the district, with $20.75m of that spent in the New Plymouth and South Taranaki districts.

David Kowalewski said it was a matter of time before something needed to be done with the buildings as they were earthquake prone. While there would be disruption for the leasees currently in the shops, he said this was outweighed by the improvements it would bring to the town. While the project was more achievable in Stratford because of the cheap land, he said there was a lot more risk involved as it was harder to attract retailers than it would be in New Plymouth. “Hopefully it’ll be the catalyst and a couple of the trading banks will move there,” he said.

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