$130 million project begins

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Queenstown’s most famous abandoned excavation site is finally changing shape.

Contractors on Tuesday started filling in about two-thirds of the ‘Hendo’s Hole’ eyesore beside Queenstown Airport at the gateway to Queenstown.

The 2.4ha hole was dug out in anticipation of a two-level underground carpark for Christchurch developer Dave Henderson’s Five Mile township in 2006. 

The hole was abandoned after Henderson’s company Five Mile Holdings was placed in receivership in 2008.

Auckland developer Tony Gapes’ Queenstown Gateway – which bought the entire 7.8ha site in 2009 for $21 million – has now finally got cracking on its own 28,000sq m, $130m Five Mile shopping centre. The building contract has been let out to contractor Naylor Love.

Queenstown Gateway was granted resource consent last year but was held up by a proposed judicial review by rival Frankton Flats developer Shotover Park, headed by Alastair Porter – Porter also developed the nearby Remarkables Park shopping centre. 

That proposed legal challenge was withdrawn in May this year.

Gapes says he only requires about 400 basement carparks compared with 2000 planned for Henderson’s township development so is refilling most of ‘Hendo’s Hole’.

The hole-filling cost will be more than $1m, he adds.

Queenstown Gateway will start stage one, comprising four out of seven large retail buildings, in the new year. 

Stage one will cost about $80m to build and is more than 80 per cent leased, Gapes says.

The biggest tenants will be a 4200sq m Countdown supermarket, 2000sq m Briscoes Homeware store and 1000sq m Rebel Sport store, both owned by Briscoes Group. Warehouse Stationery and Number One Shoes which will both be about 700 to 800sq m are also confirmed. 

Gapes reveals other major tenants include Supercheap Auto and ANZ bank.

There’ll also be several food operators, offices, serviced apartments and a third local Zig Zag Zoo early childcare centre.

Despite delays, these tenants all hung in, Gapes says: “They recognise this is the best location available in Queenstown so they’ve been prepared to wait.” 

Queenstown Gateway recently pre-sold three of its first four buildings to undisclosed local investors, he confirms.
“They settle their purchases when the buildings are finished.”

Gapes hopes work will start on his $50m stage two – the other three buildings – in six months, once they’re mostly leased out.

Some of the first buildings should be open by late next year with the balance of the centre largely done by May 2015, he says.

The design reflects the jagged profile and colours of the Remarkables mountain range overlooking the Frankton Flats.

Early designs featured schist but Gapes says council’s urban design panel wanted to get away from it.

“They wanted something a bit more edgy and modern which I think we’ve come up with.”