Peak sale not the pits

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Developer denies money problems forcing Walter Peak sell-off.

A US-based Queenstown dev­eloper claims the financial squeeze isn’t the reason he’s selling his 38-hectare Walter Peak Estate.

Rod Nielsen has issued “must sell” instructions to Harcourts Queenstown, which is tendering the lakefront site on a tight December 10 deadline.

Nielsen, who developed Queens­town’s upmarket Heritage and The Esplanade Villas, admits “the so-called credit crunch makes you take a long hard look at each of your projects and you have to decide what you can do and can’t do”.

And from his Las Vegas base, where he’s involved in retail and condominium projects, Nielsen says Walter Peak Estate is “simply too big and too specialised” to get his attention.

“Since I’m not in a position to develop it, I have to sell it as it is uneconomic sitting on bare land … especially if you have a loan against it.”

The property, originally carved off the 27,000ha Walter Peak Station, has an 820-metre Lake Wakatipu frontage, consents for a home lodge with six guest suites, eight guest cottages, manager’s cottage, eight luxury homesteads, vineyard and marina.

Nielsen’s first preference is to sell it as one block.

The developer says the eight homestead sites were originally valued at about $20 million and the lodge at $8m.

Just two homestead sites have sold for $2m a pop since going on the market in 2006 – one went to ex-South African tennis pro Wayne Ferreira.

While saying the lower Kiwi dollar could attract an overseas buyer, Nielsen admits “ideally this is not the best time to be selling”.

Already this year, he’s sold a 9107sq m hotel site by his Heritage Villas, another development site at St Andrew’s Park overlooking Frankton Arm – and now all 13 sections at Lake Hayes’s Sicilian Estates.

In Queenstown, Nielsen says he’s only retaining land behind The Esplanade Villas and beside The Rees apartments on Frankton Road – “until we get our prices”.

He also faces a mortgagee auction next month on his new Earl Street commercial building, where his former office was till he shut it down.

On the mortgagee auction, Nielsen says simply that his funding facility with Strategic Finance has expired – “and we thought it was best to work with them to sell it”.

“The best marketing campaigns in this market are the ‘mortgagee sale’ ones as they attract an enormous amount of buyers”.

The market’s telling him he’ll get $2.5m for the Earl St retail and office building.