Countdown starts for Five Mile’s eye-popping retail complex

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A giant armadillo is to sit astride the Frankton Flats. 

Aucklander Tony Gapes has revealed a radical design for a state-of-the-art retail complex on the site of “Hendo’s Hole”, at Queenstown’s gateway. 

Gapes last week won masterplan resource consent approval for stage one of his Five Mile complex, anchored around a Countdown supermarket. 

The design, which still needs further consents, reflects the jagged profile and colours of Queenstown’s iconic Remarkables mountain range, overshadowing the Frankton Flats. 

“It looks like an armadillo,” Gapes says, referring to a South American horny-plated mammal. 

“That’s how our architect describes it.” 

“Hendo’s Hole” is the nickname for the eyesore excavation left behind by embattled Christchurch developer Dave Henderson. 

Gapes’ company Queenstown Gateway bought the 7.8ha site from receivers in November 2009 for $21m. 

Gapes says Queenstown Lakes District Council’s urban design panel “made it pretty clear they didn’t want to see another timber and schist building, they wanted something completely different”. 

He describes the look as “very cool architecture”. 

Materials that would be used are mainly concrete, Alucobond, which is an exterior application, and steel. 

Having the masterplan resource consent “means we’ve locked in the size of the buildings, the carparking, the accessway, all the transport issues, all the infrastructure”, Gapes says. 

“All we’ve got to do is go back and get consent for the look and design of the buildings.” 

Subject to signing up tenants, Gapes hopes building work on the first $60 million-$70m stage of the complex can begin in August. 

This stage comprises a 4200sq m Countdown supermarket and about 10 large-format stores. 

There’ll also be five or six specialty stores that will be associated with the supermarket, like a cafe, Gapes says. 

Despite tough economic times, he doesn’t think leasing will be difficult. 

Many national and international tenants he deals with in other centres “use these sort of down times as an advantage to get into sites on probably slightly cheaper rent and better deals than they could in the good old days”. 

“There’re a lot of people that have been trying to get into Queenstown and into a good property for a long time, so we’re hopefully accommodating that for them.” 

Gapes hopes his first stage will be complete by either mid or late next year. 

He confirms he’ll keep Henderson’s Five Mile name. 

“We’ve just decided that the whole Five Mile thing is so well known that we decided to stay with it.” 

Henderson had planned to build a $2 billion township of 10,000 people on both sides of Grant Road. 

Gapes also swooped last July on 23.4ha of former Five Mile land on the eastern side of Grant Rd, paying $27m for it. The site, zoned rural general, is subject to a plan change.