Developer beats recession with Arrowtown complex

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Queenstown developer Chris James has pulled off what few of his ilk have managed in recent times – a new development.

James and his Bush Creek Invest­ments partners from Dunedin have almost completed a $1.5 million two-level commercial complex in Arrowtown, behind the historic Post Office and The Post­master’s Residence Restaurant. 

It’s some years since a new commercial building was completed in Queenstown or Arrowtown and there’s only been limited activity at Frankton. 

The Postmaster’s Precinct was first planned by former local Guy Evatt eight years ago. 

Evatt – who restored The Post­master’s Residence villa before selling it to Bush Creek Investments – employed Akaroa architect David Brocherie. 

James’ company inherited the plans but didn’t proceed with a basement. 

“We’re trying to make it look like it’s always been here,” James says. 

Traditional materials like stone, corrugated iron and weatherboard have been used by builders Cook Brothers Construction. 

Lakes District Museum director David Clarke likes the way the colours and forms mirror those of the Post Office and The Postmaster’s Residence. 

“You’ve got these little broken cottage forms which fit in with Arrowtown.” 

Clarke – whose Buckingham Street museum is directly opposite the new development – applauds the fact the building’s the same height as the adjacent Royal Oak complex when it could have gone much higher. 

“It’s not blocking any views apart from a scungy old flat up behind,” Clarke says. 

“It was just an empty weed-grown section and now it’s going to be something quite nice.” 

Clarke is happy that green spaces will be retained either side of the old Post Office owned and run by his museum. 

The precinct also has a lane that will connect with the Royal Oak complex. 

Clarke says his museum has benefited from the development too – funds from selling Post Office land to Bush Creek Investments has gone into a new archives room. 

Four of the Postmaster’s Precinct’s six tenancies have already been spoken for. 

QT Event Management has taken one upstairs space and Luxury Real Estate is moving into another. 

A design company and an architectural firm may occupy the third upstairs tenancy. 

Two of the three ground-floor tenancies will be taken by a publishing company and a cocktail bar and restaurant.