A MAJOR player in the Invercargill property market doesn’t believe there is enough demand to sustain three mall-like complexes in the city as a battle brews over potential commercial tenants.

Nelson-based Gaire Thompson, of Thompson Property Group, revealed last month that is company was planning to turn the Farmers building on Dee St into a mini-mall.

This week Mr Thompson told the Southland Express he feared current tenants Farmers would vacate the building and throw their lot in with the new inner city complex planned by the Richardson Group and the Invercargill City Council.

He said Farmers had not told him they planned to move, but he understood they had been approached.

Mr Thompson said if that eventuated, his company would be left with an empty building and that was why the mall proposal had been put forward as a way to “get ahead of the game”.

Farmers officials were unable to be reached for comment before the Express went to print.

HWCP Management Ltd director Scott O’Donnell, who is in charge of the new CBD development, said: “We are not in a situation to disclose any of our tenants at this stage.”

Farmers have a short-term lease on the Dee St building owned by Thompson Property Group’s subsidiary company, Pascoe Properties.

Pascoe Properties owns a host of commercial property in Invercargill, including The Warehouse, Smith City, Noel Leeming and Menzies’ buildings.

Mr Thompson has started to approach business owners who would soon be forced to vacant their premises when demolition started on the CBD block bordered by Tay, Esk, Dee and Kelvin Sts.

He said he had also had a positive discussion with a potential new tenant to Invercargill, which would take up the bulk of the top floor of the Farmers building.

The plan was to have about 15 tenants in the Farmers building, Mr Thompson said.

He acknowledged food outlets proved tricky given the cost of setting up commercial kitchens. However, a food court was a possibility for the mini-mall, Mr Thompson said.

At the same time as Mr Thompson investigates setting up a mall, Kmart is going ahead on Clyde St.

Developers Windermere Holdings plan to house a further eight smaller tenants in the Kmart building as well.

Mr Thompson did not believe there would be enough commercial tenants willing to come to Invercargill to fill all three planned mall complexes, which was another reason why he wanted to get his own mall started and established now.

“I’ve been doing this for a while and it is tough to get [national tenants] to come to Invercargill.”

Pascoe Properties did own a building within the planned CBD block and sold it to the Richardson Group-Invercargill City Council joint venture, oblivious to the plans that were in place.

Mr Thompson said his company was a significant ratepayer in Invercargill and he felt it was “a bit on the nose” that council money was being used to kick-start a project which he believed was in direct competition to the properties he owned in Invercargill.

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