For those of you who don’t know Hamilton too well, there is a suburb to the north of Hamilton called Te Rapa. In Te Rapa, there is a large shopping complex called The Base. The Base is owned by Tainui, the local Maori iwi.
Right now, The Base is expanding quite a bit, and people are going to The Base for their shopping rather than the local shops in central Hamilton. This, I would assume, is because there is a large number of businesses in a relatively small area. However this is meaning the businesses in the CBD are getting fewer and fewer customers. With the lack of customers, businesses are closing and the CBD is starting to empty out.
One of the positives of Hamilton is that most things are able to be walked. I will happily walk from the university into the CBD. The Base is about the same distance from the CBD as the CBD is from the university. As much as the Hamilton City Council refuses to admit it, Hamilton is a student city for the most part. If students’ can’t easily get there from the university, it’s not going to happen. Sure, there’s buses, but they are relatively infrequent or take a long time to get there – or both.
The fact is, The Base is causing major urban sprawl in Hamilton. Te Rapa used to be considered a separate town like Huntly or Ngarawahia. Now, Hamilton has sprawled out to Te Rapa.
The other potential negative is to Hamilton’s nightlife. If bars start moving toward The Base, students aren’t going to be able to easily get there, and Hamilton’s nightlife will dwindle or die out completely.
While Te Rapa is considered a major benefit to the Waikato Region’s economy, in the long term, it may just destroy Hamilton. And if it does destroy Hamilton, that will be a huge negative to the region.