Bye-bye Hilton


Developer faces bankruptcy owing $100m.

Problems besetting developer Dan McEwan should put paid to Queens­town’s five-star $60 million Hilton Hotel and other planned local projects.

Last November, the Aucklander’s Hilton development company Pinpoint Trustees was liquidated by Inland Revenue.

According to the liquidators’ first report, Inland Revenue claimed $315,452 in outstanding GST and PAYE and there’s “unlikely” to be a return to unsecured creditors.

Liquidators say McEwan has advised that his company “experienced financial difficulty caused by the downturn in the New Zealand property market”.

Last weekend, the Sunday Star-Times also reported the Auckland District Court being told how McEwan faces debts of more than $100m and bankruptcy proceedings loom later this month.

The 70-year-old’s only income is a $200-a-week pension, it’s claimed.

The revelations came in a sentencing hearing after McEwan was found guilty of five breaches of the Securities Act – two against him personally and three against two of his companies – carrying maximum fines of $300,000 each.

His lawyer also said there had been High Court judgments against McEwan for $4m and other company liquidations. Sentencing was deferred.

Last April, McEwan finally won Environment Court consent for a 106-room Hilton by his Pounamu Apartments on Frankton Road.

To satisfy neighbours’ concerns over views and shading, the hotel’s height was scaled down by 1.6 metres and 20 rooms lopped off.

McEwan said he’d apply for another 40-room wing to make the hotel more economic, though no application’s been lodged.

He also suggested construction would begin late last year so the hotel could open before the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

This week, McEwan told Mountain Scene all his projects were on hold but he wouldn’t comment on any in particular.

“We’re in an uncertain market – there’s no money out there.

“It’s wait and see what happens in the marketplace.”

If the Kiwi dollar and interest rates kept on coming down, “suddenly everything becomes profitable again”.

Other local McEwan projects are a 104-lot rural residential subdivision at Bob’s Cove off the Glenorchy Rd, and a $75m commercial project that would double the size of Kingston.

McEwan is confident buyers will settle on the second stage of Pounamu Apartments and units at the top of Edgar Street – both recently completed.

In December, however, the Sunday Star-Times reported a number of Pounamu buyers were angry that McEwan hadn’t followed up on alleged promises to relieve them of their units once completed.