Warning to central Queenstown


A Queenstown realtor is urging the resort’s centre to meet the challenge of a pending retail explosion at Frankton.

Doug Jacques, who has extensive commercial leasing experience, fears if central Queenstown doesn’t meet the challenge, downtown will deteriorate further.

Remarkables Park at Frankton last year received consent to double its 30,000 square metre shopping centre by Queenstown Airport. Auckland-based Five Mile developer Tony Gapes got recent go-ahead for a 23,000sq m shopping centre on the airport’s other side.

Subject to the resolution of disputes, a four-hectare shopping centre beside Five Mile plus large-format Pak ‘N’ Save and Mitre 10 Mega stores by Glenda Drive are also on the cards. An expanded Remarkables Park Town Centre will be the size of downtown Queenstown.

Jacques says: “The impact of Remarkables Park, in its current form, has already long been felt on Queenstown’s CBD, however this is a ripple compared to the tidal wave soon to strike.”

“In the majority of instances around the world where we’ve seen suburban retail sprawl, we see deterioration of traditional CBD retail.”

Jacques describes the existing quality of Queenstown’s as “border-line good”.

“Right now it’s an attraction – we’ve got this beautiful infrastructure, character and lakefront – but if it starts to slip, these developments out by the airport become the new CBD.”

Jacques believes central Queenstown has to hang on to better-quality retailers, and landlords and tenants should form an association.

“Unlike the Frankton developers, [Queenstown] does not have a full-time retail manager or full-time leasing person or a marketing department.

“Downtown has to look at itself as one big shopping centre.”

Jacques notes a souvenir store opens soon in The Mall beside two existing ones: “From a consumer’s point of view, they don’t want to see 16 souvenir shops.”

When Cromwell’s Mike Pardekooper closed his Paper Plus, in The Mall, early this year, he said: “It’s not so much the increase in the rent, it’s the shifting retail patterns.

“Clearly the development of Remarkables Park and the likely development of Five Mile plus Pak ‘N’ Save will have an influence on the shopping behaviour of the people of Queenstown.”

Remarkables Park co-developer Alastair Porter says his shopping centre hasn’t threatened downtown Queenstown as it’s been staged to match growth – “…we believe a viable downtown is good for the whole district”.

Council planners were commercially naïve by not insisting Five Mile also be staged, he says. Porter says he’s not as pessimistic as Jacques.

“I think retailers and owners can do quite a lot,” adding central Queenstown should lobby council to stop zoning land beside Five Mile for further shopping centre development.

Secondly, he supports a downtown retailers association or Chamber of Commerce sub-committee.

“They need to work as a group to have standardised shopping hours – many are national retailers and think nobody would shop after 6 o’clock.”

Porter says the Chamber, during his presidency till the end of last year, did a lot for the CBD including lobbying for CCTV security cameras, flood barriers and improved parking.

However, he believes downtown’s strength is tourist retail: “I think trying to compete for locals shopping, where parking’s difficult, and there’s going to be intense competition on the Frankton Flats, is going to be beyond them.”

Jacques believes the CBD should support both local and tourist shopping.

“I don’t think downtown should be a tourist-only haven because if it is, what the hell’s going to happen from September to December?”