From Queenstown dustbowl to lux retail precinct

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A Queenstown upmarket hotel boss is hailing a new project that aims to turn a neighbouring dustbowl into a high-end retail cluster.
 
Eichardt’s Private Hotel general manager James Cavanagh says a $6m development proposal by tourism giant Skyline Enterprises is a great boost for downtown – and his neck of the woods. 

“The new retail will help this corner of town – at the moment people come to the end of The Mall, turn left and there’s nothing here really. It’ll have a flow-on effect and reinvigorate this precinct on the way into the Gardens.” 

Skyline, which not only runs Queenstown’s gondola and luge complex but is a major landlord, unveiled the plans this week and confirmed it had lodged resource consent for the three-storey project. 

It will sit beside Eichardt’s on the corner of Marine Parade and Church Street. As it stands, the bare site consists of a dusty gravel carpark and is home to Aggy’s Shack fish and chips and a bike/kayak rental depot. 

In a past life it was home to a horse stables, servicing accommodation. The proposed new building’s ground floor retail space of approximately 700sq m has been set aside for high-end retail stores. The first floor will be for either premium office space, or more retail or visitor accommodation – talks between top brass from Skyline and owners of the building’s neighbouring luxury hotel Eichart’s will deterimine that mix. A luxury two-bedroom apartment with balconies is planned for the top floor. 

The announcement, two weeks after Mountain Scene first revealed Skyline was close to finalising the application, gives a first look at the Michael-Wyatt-designed project which features an Oamaru stone finish, plus weathered and exposed steel. 

Cavanagh says plenty of his guests have a demand for high-end retail that’s limited in Queenstown: “We have other suites next to Botswana [past the new project site and across the road] and there’s a bit of disconnect when we walk them past a gravel carpark and they’re like ‘Where are you taking me?’ It’ll be good for us to walk past a Gucci,” he says. 

Skyline chief executive Jeff Staniland says the company has worked alongside Queens-town Lakes District Council’s urban design panel to ensure the concept is in line with council’s guidelines and vision for the CBD. 

Staniland says the time is right to proceed with the building. 

“All business indicators are this is a very positive time for investment in a development such as this, on the most high-profile piece of undeveloped land in the CBD. 

“Skyline Enterprises already has over 70 tenants in the CBD and there is currently strong  demand as there hasn’t been any new supply come to the market in recent times, making that balance very favourable. 

“Our recovering economy, aligned with current and predicted growth in the Asian markets and coupled with trends in luxury shopping habits is giving us further confidence in the market.” 

It’s too soon to confirm when the building might get underway, Staniland says, as that’s subject to the consent process, but he hopes it’ll be completed in 2015.