Wanaka’s newest retail centre, The Precinct, opens this summer with a distinctive nod to heritage and location.
The multi-storey complex has been built with a fresh take on modern design, purposely fashioned to create an original community retail hub in an attractive industrial setting.
Built on the former Wanaka police station site in Helwick Street, the development has been spearheaded by Steve Norman, his wife Katrina and son and daughter, James and Mel Norman. The family bought the property in 2014 after moving to Wanaka from their fourth-generation Ettrick high-country farm, Gemlake Station. Their middle son Ian and wife Elizabeth own and operate the Wanaka Backpackers.
Mel has an extensive hospitality and marketing background and leads The Precinct’s brand, experience and retail strategy.
“Dad is very enthusiastic and optimistic about everything he does and his futuristic focus for The Precinct is Wanaka’s growing population. Our shared vision for this project is based around honesty, integrity, emotion and respect. We want to celebrate chic, industrial design in Wanaka and attract quality businesses who reflect similar values.”
James, who is an architect, designed the three-storey building taking inspiration from New York City where a precinct is a police station.
“There is an understated elegance in the way Ian has designed the spaces to work harmoniously together wherever you are in the building,” says Mel. “The site is long and narrow, and he has included amazing open green spaces inside and out and a large courtyard area at the rear of the building to create a dynamic social and communal area – it’s going to be a real drawcard.”
The family’s collaborative approach has resulted in an exceptional retail and hospitality space.
“Our family values and rural farming background have very much informed how we want locals and visitors to engage with The Precinct,” says Mel. “It’s a sophisticated and fashionable new space that is also relaxed and fun and will hopefully sit well with the attitude of the local community. At the heart of this project is an anti-establishment mentality, a modern version of breaking the rules through creativity.”
The Precinct Experience
An eclectic mix of retail and hospitality is proposed for The Precinct in the heart of downtown Wanaka. The expansive first and second levels overlook Helwick Street and are dedicated to top-line retail and services with seamless links to eateries, bars and cafes within.
“We have purposefully brought together a group of complementary businesses that fit with the ethos of this project. Each business owner is passionate about the brands and services they deliver and their unique products,” says Mel.
The first floor of The Precinct will house celebrated bakery, Cakes of Wanaka, award-winning florist, The Green Room, fashion house Deval, sustainable design company Revology and Mel’s own new café, Wee Tart.
Level two is dedicated to health and wellbeing with UKIYO, an award-winning women’s hair and beauty therapy salon, spanning more than 200 square metres of floor space. Short-term office space will also be available.
“These businesses are set to open prior to Christmas and then we have more to announce in the New Year including a high-profile national restaurant tipped to open mid-2020,” says Mel. “Ican’t say too much other than we have managed to sign one of New Zealand’s most recognised and admired hospitality stars who will be an exciting addition to The Precinct family.”