The Progressive supermarket chain’s general manager for property. Adrian Walker, said on Wednesday that work would start on its Belgium St site this month. The new store is expected to open early in 2016, and will be one and a half times the size of the existing Ostend Rd premises at 3490sqm.
The site will include five or six “specialty retail” shops along the roadside, and a partially underground carpark with 179 spaces.
This is significant news for our Waiheke customers,” Walker says. “It’s no secret that we’ve been looking to bring a more modern supermarket offer to the community for many years, so we’re very excited to now be able to confirm we’ll be starting work in just a few weeks.”
He spoke about the challenges of constructing a large building on the island, citing the size and nature of Countdown’s Belgium St site, the store features required, and the cost of bringing all materials and labour support to Waiheke from Auckland.
Waiheke lies in the Hauraki Gulf about 18km from Auckland. It has around 8600 permanent residents.
“We needed to find a solution that would stack up both for what the growing community needs and also financially for us to make this investment. We know this has been highly anticipated by the community so we appreciate their patience while we have been working solidly on this in the background,” says Walker.
Countdown says the store has been carefully designed to fit in on the island, describing it as the company’s most sustainable supermarket. It says the store will be almost completely self-sufficient, with rainwater collected on the roof and grey water recycled through an onsite waste-water treatment system before being redistributed in a native wetland at the back of the site.
The new store is expected to create 60 jobs on top of the 73 provided by the existing store.
Ron Walden, 74, is a third-generation Waiheke resident who lives in Onetangi. He described the plans for the new supermarket as “horrible.”
Walden regrets the effects of the first Countdown on Waiheke’s villages, citing his concern about the dominance of commercial entities in public spaces. He is worried that parking time restrictions will mean that those who park in Countdown’s carpark won’t be able to visit any other shops.
He says Waiheke’s village atmosphere is special. Within supermarkets, he says, “there’s no place that you can sit down on a bench and chat.”