Auckland interests pay $3.2m for prime Queenstown site

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A buyer has finally stumped up for one of central Queenstown’s choicest lakefront development sites.

Undisclosed Auckland interests have plonked down $3.2 million for a steep hillside plot beside the Rydges Lakeland hotel.

Early this year, local architect Maurice Orr contracted to buy the 7825sq m site, between Lake Esplanade and Thompson Street, for $3.1m.

Orr paid a 10 per cent deposit and had plans for a radical 10-level $100m, 300-unit ‘Ice Hotel’ but failed to settle.

“Funding wasn’t available to complete settlement,” Orr told Mountain Scene in September.

It’s understood local investor Matt Paterson’s Blackstar Properties had a back-up option, but didn’t exercise it.

Now an Auckland party has snapped up the site in a deal brokered by local Ray White agent Buzz Scown.

Scown won’t reveal the buyers but says they’re New Zealand citizens who export healthcare products to Asia. 

Palmerston North-based vendor Keith Marriott – whose company bought the site in a mortgagee sale early last year for just under $3m – tells Mountain Scene: “It’s been a bit of a saga on that block but I’m happy that the sale’s finally gone through.

“There were a couple of contracts that didn’t deliver but it didn’t worry me too much because I knew it was going to keep increasing in value.”

Marriott says he’d planned to put upmarket apartments on the site but instead put the block on the market to help fund a North Island project.

The sale, completed last Friday, should help develop confidence in the Queenstown market, he believes. 

“Queenstown’s had a hammer­ing the last six or seven years with all those projects falling over, people going broke, mortgagee sales and all that stuff,” he says.

“And now it appears to be on fire again, which is great,” Marriott says.

Marriott has also owned two Queenstown development sites on Frankton Road in recent years.

Local developer Tim Medland and two French investors are taking one property for a 42-unit apartment development, while a site behind Pounamu Apartments – originally slated for a Hilton hotel – is now on the market for $3.5m.

Bankrupt former developer Rod Nielsen bought the Lake Esplanade site for $10m back in 2004.

Nielsen – who developed the 16-unit Esplanade Villas in front – was granted resource consent for a nine-level 46-unit apartment complex.

At the height of the boom he tried to flog the site for $15m.

Nielsen’s Queenstown Villas (NZ) Ltd was placed in receivership in 2008 before any building works commenced.

Finance company Strategic Nominees was owed more than $11m.