They accepted an offer from McDonald’s and three years ago moved to a new house nearby.
At the time, there was shock in the Havelock North community that the first sight to greet visitors crossing the Karamu Stream from Hastings would be the world’s most successful restaurant chain, instead of an overgrown kauri villa.
The Hastings suburb’s commercial precinct is undergoing a flurry of change, the main one being a $25 million project 10 years in the planning by Lowmac properties, owned by the Lowe and Mackersey families,The Happy Tav has been demolished and two-year construction started on the Village Exchange, a 40-room, five-star boutique hotel, bar and restaurant, function and conference facilities, a central courtyard with a water feature, seven retail spaces including a cafe, multiple first-floor offices and a basement carpark with 96 spaces.
Plans include three separate buildings encircling a central courtyard on the 4300sq m site. At the bottom of Joll Rd, in the gap between the BNZ and the Visage building, Mackersey Construction are due to fill the empty site with a new building for owner Tremains.
Macklock Properties plans a five-tenant commercial building on Havelock Rd, where Redshaw Homes is marketing a 17-unit upmarket residential subdivision.
The name Mackersey is a common theme in Havelock North commercial property.
John Mackersey started JC Mackersey Ltd (now Mackersey Construction Ltd) in 1948 and son David now has the reins.
In 2003, he established Mackersey Development Ltd, based in Havelock North, specialising in property development and management in Napier and Hastings, administrating a growing multi-million dollar property portfolio.
David Mackersey said Havelock North’s future was “very promising” for commercial real estate.
“Everyone in Havelock works hard to keep them full,” he said.
“There is a boutique shopping centre that works very well and the retailers are doing a very good job.”
His company is involved with the 17-unit development on a mixed-zone site.
Having people living in the business precinct is a unique feature compared with most provincial centres. “Havelock’s had a village for some time and will continue to have.

There are 17 units going in there where previously there were five houses.”
The Hastings District Plan has prescriptive architectural rules to maintain character.
Havelock North Business Association president Sam Jackman said the suburb was unique in New Zealand.
“The village concept, the village feel, has been the essence since the 1860s,” he said.
“It is a lovely place to live in and it has matured over time. It has great educational facilities and attracted a really nice type of person. It is just a lovely place to live.”
He said the hotel would actively promote Havelock North as a destination. While Havelock North rents were higher than other parts of Hawke’s Bay, there was a very high occupancy rate “so they can’t be that bad, that’s for sure.”If they were really high, nobody would be here.”

From his Havelock North office, Colliers International real estate agent Danny Blair said there were minimal office vacancies “and next to no retail vacancies”.
In a few years’ time, McDonald’s will no longer be the first building visitors see. Businessman Stephen Hill has bought the house closest to the Karamu Stream bridge and plans an office building.
“I have a company in Hastings I’m about to put down there, but it may be three of four years away,” he said. “I’d like to work out there, the site’s really good because it’s green and looks over to the stream. “I haven’t got close to deciding what the hell can go on there. I’m going away for quite sometime overseas, so hopefully that will give me some insight and inspiration.
“I think in recent times there are some properties in Havelock built that should have had a bit more thought into them, but there are some nice properties as well.
“Anyone knows me well knows everything I do, I do well. I don’t do half pie.”
Pharmacist and Postshop owner Jeff Whittaker was mayor of the Havelock North Borough Council until it was amalgamated into Hastings in 1989. He said the hotel was a “very positive” move and its retail should fit in well in a superior shopping precinct. “Everything is readily available, not like Hastings where some things are strung out on a long road. Hastings’ shopping area goes on forever and, if you look at Napier, Emerson St is also strung out.
“We are pretty central to where people live, that is what creates a reasonable shopping area. We certainly have a lot of customers who shop with us before they go to work. We open at 8am and it is amazing how many people do the postage before they get to work.”
Changes had been “mainly positive,” except for a plethora of red tape. “I want to see a speed restriction on the actual shopping precinct. I wrote that two and a half years ago and they told me ‘it is in the melting pot and we are getting on with it’, but they have run out of money for the next five years.”
Hastings “flogged off” parking areas, “which was a bad mistake”.
“I don’t think there is a lot of benefits from our amalgamation with Hastings. The people in Havelock are paying a lot more in rates than they would have if they had been left alone.”
While he is lukewarm over Havelock North’s amalgamation, he said council amalgamation for the whole of Hawke’s Bay, apart from Wairoa, would be a very good idea.
“We are top heavy with administration. Between Napier and Hastings there are two administrations for about 140,000 people, it’s ridiculous.”

Published courtesy of Hawke’s Bay Today