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Connings’ Investment Plans For Nelson A Boost For City Centre

Nelson City Council and the Connings have agreed in principle to the successful market gardening business leasing a Council-owned site in central Nelson to bring its fresh produce to town.

Council’s in-principle agreement involves Connings leasing a site on Achilles Avenue for a pop-up store with the option of buying 69-101 Achilles Avenue for the construction of a new Connings Food Market. It comes after Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities announced in February that it was not proceeding with plans for a housing development on the Achilles Avenue site and another Council-owned site on Rutherford Street.

Nelson Mayor Nick Smith welcomes Connings’ plans for the Achilles Avenue site, which were supported unanimously by Council last Thursday, 7 March 2024.

“A Connings Food Market in Achilles Ave is an exciting investment that will help revitalise the central city and showcase this region’s horticultural produce and artisan foods. Connings is a well-respected local business with the expertise and experience from the successful Appleby food market to make this happen.

“We know that their products and services are popular with Nelsonians, with 30% of their current business coming from people living in the city. It’s better to bring Connings to town than having thousands of us travelling to and from Appleby.”

Council Chief Executive Nigel Philpott says market valuations will be completed for the site as part of the commercial negotiations between Council and Connings to finalise the agreement.

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“I’m really pleased we have been able to reach an agreement in principle with Connings and am confident their food market will be very popular with our community.

“Positioned close to Bridge Street, this move by Connings is a massive boost to the Bridge To Better project, which involves revitalising Bridge Street and building capacity for hundreds of city centre homes and businesses. Council has been working closely with local housing providers and developers to support them to make use of the infrastructure investment and capacity being provided by Bridge to Better."

“This particular site is well suited for a commercial operation, but housing developers should note that Council will soon be putting out Expressions of Interest for other sites in our city centre that are suitable for new housing.”

It is proposed the pop-up food market will be established later this year in the former Hunting and Fishing building at 81 Achilles Avenue, which is currently occupied by Community Art Works on a month-by-month community lease. Council is exploring alternative venues for Community Art Works. Liquidators of Retail Links, trading as Four Seasons, lease 91-101 Achilles Ave on a month-by-month basis.

“We are all invested in helping to find a new location for Community Art Works well before Connings take over the lease,” says Nigel.

Council bought the Achilles Avenue properties in 2011 and Mayor Nick says they need redevelopment after years of uncertainty.

“Council has moved quickly on this opportunity with Connings because times are tough, and the city urgently needs to attract new businesses and investment. This Connings development also connects well with Council’s Bridge to Better project with its huge investment in infrastructure to help revitalise the central city.”

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