With James Wallace (TONEA Investments)

james-wallace-tonea-investments-1bIt’s easy to see why vibrant Takanini Village in South Auckland is emerging as a town centre of note. Cleverly designed, with Stage One full to capacity, ongoing development promises to extend this well-planned community hub into a unique and stimulating urban environment. Inclusive of retail, professional services, entertainment, hospitality and more, it is a place where locals and visitors can meet, shop, eat, drink, socialise and conduct their business on a daily basis. Stage One opened in 2013; now, Stage Two is on the way to completion. Business to Business asked the developer, James Wallace of TONEA Investments, about the town centre and its role in ‘changing the face of Takanini.’

Why did Takanini need its own town centre?

Takanini doesn’t have a main centre like [nearby] Papakura and traditionally shopping and services have been spread over a wide area. However, with the explosion of residential growth locally, the need for centralised amenities had become imperative. The area needed not just retail but professional, public and community services, hospitality and entertainment, all in one central location.

What can you tell us about the history of the site?

This site of 5.5 hectares was originally owned by my grandfather, Ray Wallace and was used to graze thoroughbreds. He was a horse trainer, as was my father, but with increasing urbanisation, we moved our stables to Kingseat. However, the catalyst for developing the then vacant land was The Warehouse wanting to move from its Papakura site. Originally the group wanted to buy the land but, with Takanini starting to burgeon, we could see a bigger picture. Furthermore, our family has been here for four generation and we wanted to remain a part of the district’s future.

Stage One opened six years ago – what does it feature? 

Stage One has 30 tenancies and is 100 percent full; not a square metre is unoccupied. Shoppers benefit from traditional retail – major and boutique brands – cafes, travel and real estate offices as well as banks, public services (including Housing New Zealand) and, of course, our anchor tenant The Warehouse which has embraced the contemporary nature of the village and brought with it a new dimension to this iconic business.

When will Stage Two open and what will it offer?

We are excited about progress in Stage Two which is expected to open in the first half of 2020. It will feature a state of the library and community hub offering a wide range of activities and services as well as retail outlets and offices for local businesses. With Stage One full, we are already experiencing strong interest from complementary businesses which can see the benefit of being part of Takanini Village and close to the new public library with its active community vibe. We still have some space available for retailers but supply is limited.

Will there be a Stage Three and, if so, what can you tell us about it?

Yes, there most definitely is a Stage Three and it will have a strong hospitality and entertainment focus. Plans also include a town square and green space where locals can congregate, relax and socialise; a place which families and children can enjoy.

What sets this new Takanini Village apart from other nearby centres?

We are master planned and, unlike many strip shopping centres in the district, we have no derelict or vacant shops. The parking is excellent and, importantly, we control which tenants come in here thus ensuring a vibrant and complementary business mix. Our management office is also on site ensuring the whole village is kept, clean, tidy and well maintained; it is safe and bright. A major attraction is its location – in the heart of new residential housing and walking distance for scores of families. What’s more, as a family-owned entity, (with myself and my two brothers, all directors), we have a direct and strong relationship with village tenants – we want them to succeed.

Above all, we have a real vision for making this more than just a shopping centre; we want it to be an inspiring and fully functioning town centre which is attractive to patrons and, naturally, nearby families, who appreciate having everything from retail to medical rooms, professional services, banking facilities and, of course a proactive library, and other civic spaces, right at their fingertips.

Stage One is thriving. Stage Two and Three will be no exception. Subsequently, we welcome inquiries from business owners who want to be part of this invigorating, contemporary and supportive environment.