Skyline O’Connell’s revamp

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Queenstown tourism giant Skyline Enterprises has plans for a huge overhaul of O’Connell’s Shopping Centre.

Details are sparse but boss Mark Quickfall confirms it’s considering a complete redevelopment or a grand refurbishment of the prime retail spot.

Architects and quantity surveyors are doing the sums for the big-bucks project.

It’s been welcomed by some – but not all tenants are stoked with the possibility.

Goldfields Jewellers owner Trond Johansson doesn’t want to get the boot.

He’s been on the corner of Beach and Camp Sts for 12 years.

The shop has two entrances and Johansson says it’s the perfect location as effectively a stand-alone store.

“I am happy to stay where I am. It’s a great place, I have a street-front spot and a workshop upstairs. I’m hoping for a refurb as I would have to find another place to go.”

He isn’t having a dig at Skyline, describing them as good landlords, and understands the need for change.

“Obviously it needs upgrading and brought up to speed.”

Quickfall says it is keeping tenants in the loop and no firm decision’s been made.

He’s happy to share some detail but says it’s premature to talk numbers.

“We have basic costs from the quantity surveyors and held a meeting with the architect.

“They have gone away to do a bit more work and break it down, so we are uncertain how far it will go at this stage.

“We’ve had some preliminary discussions but it is still a long way down the track to know exactly what we are doing … whether that is a refurbishment or redevelopment.

“We are investigating both those options and the tenants are very much aware of that.

“We obviously have a responsibility to keep them aware of what is happening.”

He can’t confirm when work might start, but says 2017 will be “gobbled up” making a decision.

The shopping centre was originally opened by then-mayor Sir John Davies in April 1988.

Tenant Mike Collins, who recently moved Detour clothing store back into the shopping centre, is impressed with the proposed investment and says the building’s tired.

“O’Connell’s used to be a focal point for retail back in its day and the building is definitely past its use-by date.

“I’m really looking forward to hearing and seeing plans of what they are going to do.

“I think it is fantastic for Queenstown.

“It is a prime central location and it’s great Skyline are investing in the building or in the site.

“If they are going to bring it up to a modern standard and turn it into a nice-looking plaza or whatever it is only going to be good for Queenstown.”

He describes getting a prime location as “rare as hen’s teeth”.

“There’s plenty of national and international retailers who would like to get into Queenstown and there’s really not many options to find a space.

“Hopefully O’Connell’s will present a nice product to the market and it will get snapped up by quality retailers.”

It’s currently home to numerous businesses, including QT Pharmacy, Smith & Western clothing store, Elysium Beauty Therapy, Queenstown Language School, numerous eateries and Skyline’s own office.

Skyline opened one of Queenstown’s newest developments on the lakefront last October – designed by local architect Michael Wyatt.

The $8 million, three-storey building beside the historic Eichardt’s Private Hotel is now home to a range of commercial, retail and accommodation spaces.

The company also announced last July it would redevelop its flagship Skyline Queenstown operation.

A resource consent application for the $100 million-plus project was referred directly to the Environment Court and adjourned after a hearing in the resort last week.

louises@scene.co.nz