Ball’s in your court, developers


A zone change has given developers the latitude to change the face of Queenstown.

But property experts say there’s unlikely to be a Dubai-style building boom any time soon.

Queenstown’s plan change 50, which extends the town centre zone across huge swathes of land around Man Street, came into force on Wednesday.

It allows for buildings up to seven storeys high in some cases on 14.5 hectares of land.

Those buildings can be used for housing, hotels, offices, bars, restaurants and shops.

Both Hoamz partner Fred Bramwell and Colliers International Queenstown director John Scobie say Queenstown’s property market is hotter than the sun.

But land prices in that area and construction costs in general are also high, so it’s difficult to predict whether the Queenstown council’s bid to lure developers will work.

“It’s a hard one,” Bramwell says.

“We know quite a few people who are looking at liquidating in that area.

“There have been some good prices, millions of dollars.”

One Man St property in the newly-zoned area sold in April for a staggering $1.8 million.

“And there are a lot of heavyweight people looking round Queenstown at the moment,” Bramwell says.

“But they’re pretty smart too. The numbers have to stack up for them to push the button.”

Scobie agrees developers will be canny about going big in the downtown area.

“There has to be demand for the end product,” he says.

“There are proposed developments elsewhere in the district which will alleviate some of the accommodation demand.”

Both say there’s strong interest from overseas in Queenstown, with it still seen as a good place to invest despite the runaway market.

Some will just buy and hold on to the existing property, though, or build homes rather than blocks.

Bramwell says: “There’s interest from Australia generally, and of course Chinese buyers, although a lot of them are residents in New Zealand.

“They’ve got disposable cash, young Chinese with a heck of a lot of money.

“The market’s a bit crazy, I haven’t quite seen it like this.”

The massive rezoning, dubbed Monte Queeno, includes the Lakeview site, earmarked by council for a dormant $70m convention centre, and its surrounds all the way across to the fire station on Camp St and as far down as Crown Plaza hotel on Beach St.

Many of the properties are fairly ramshackle rentals while there are also businesses, such as Lomond Lodge.

Lee Excell’s owned the lodge for 12 years and says he hasn’t paid too much attention to the zone change.

“I’m not sure it will really affect me.

“My business is valued about $3.3m anyway, so I can’t imagine a developer coming along and offering more than that.

“I’m always open to offers but at the moment there’s nothing planned.”