An artist’s impression of the interior of the retail development proposed for Wakatu Square. Photo: Supplied.

New inner-city development ‘not a mall’


The developer behind a proposed urban precinct in central Nelson says that it will not be a mall in the traditional sense.

Nelson City Council is currently consulting on the possibility of selling approximately 2,425sqm of Wakatu Square car park to developer Cephas to allow the new inner-city development to go ahead.

“We are not proposing a large out-of-town suburban shopping centre, which is often what people see in their minds when they hear the word mall”, says Cephas managing director Steve Baigent. “This is not a mall – it would not suit Nelson, and it wouldn’t suit this site.”

He says the precinct would have one third of the retail space of Richmond Mall, with smaller shops starting at 10 sqm providing affordable opportunities for small independent retailers. It will also include office space and dining options.

“Retail is changing, with a stronger focus on customer experience. Our focus is to create a space that customers enjoy and want to visit, that will intensify the retail landscape and bring life to the heart of the city and re-energise it.”

He says Cephas are at very early concept stage, with multi-storey buildings, highly connected laneways with high rooves and lots of glazing connecting the precinct to the city, and a wider mix of large and small shops.

“The laneways will be relatively narrow, to provide an intimacy appropriate to the city –the scale is more akin to Nelson Central walkway off Trafalgar Street.”

Around half of the space for the new urban infill precinct would come from existing retail and office space fronting Bridge Street and Trafalgar Street, already owned by Cephas.

There would be multiple entrances connecting the precinct to the CBD, including open-aired and roofed laneways. These entrances will spill people out onto Bridge and Trafalgar Streets, stimulating and intensifying activity for surrounding properties and businesses.

Steve says the proposal would allow Cephas to repurpose or replace existing retail floor space to ensure it trades more effectively.

“The central city needs to move beyond outdated strip retail, and a whole lot of underutilised space that doesn’t serve the customer.”

Nelson City Council have indicated at a minimum, car park numbers would not be reduced. Cephas Property would support more parking in the vicinity including multi-level car parking options.

Cephas Property has already had strong interest’ from Farmers to be a potential anchor tenant. The move would allow Farmers to unify into one store, rather than the two it currently operates from, and provide a better offer and service to Nelson shoppers.

Steve says the edges of the precinct will either be attractive streetscapes with active retail frontages, or glass looking into the common area. Other edges will integrate seamlessly with existing buildings.

“We also hope that our investment will encourage other landlords to invest, lifting Nelson’s game as a whole.”

More information on the proposal, as well as submissions, can be made at