Growth spurt

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Shopping centre defies downturn with $40m expansion

As Queenstown’s CBD enters a development lull, large-scale construction is set to start again at the resort’s other town centre.

Remarkables Park, which launched 10 years ago, is to double in size – with about $40 million worth of building work under way next year.
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Two weeks ago, Remarkables Park Ltd gained consent to develop the remaining 119 hectares of its present deer farm, a “special zone” bordering the current shopping centre, the airport runway and the Kawarau River.

The earthworks component gifts 700,000 cubic metres of fill to Queenstown Airport for its “runway end safety extension”, or RESESA, over the Shotover Delta.

The consent also permits eight “precincts” – including two for housing, one for sport and recreation, and another for a resort village by the Kawarau River.

It also gives exact titles for the shopping centre’s second stage and, just east of that, for a “care centre” comprising a private hospital, large retirement village and childcare complex.

Private health giant Southern Cross last week stated its hospital plans were on hold pending Southland District Health Board’s long-delayed hospital capacity review, but it’s full steam ahead on the shopping centre.

“We’ve got retailers out there that are interested in expanding and it would be crazy not to pick up on the interest,” developer Alastair Porter says.

The big build will also help the local construction industry.

“To my knowledge, there are no decent-sized projects around for construction next year.

“If we can get going, it should be a win-win for us and the building contractors because they want the work and we’d expect we’d get good [construction] prices.”

Auckland-based DNZ Property Group, which bought the existing shopping centre two years ago for about $100m, is expected to develop two more buildings on its land by the present entrance.

The current centre is home to about 20,000sq m of retail and food and beverage space, plus 5000sq m of office space.

Stage two adds another 26,000sq m, including two 4000sq m large-format stores – the largest at present is New World’s 3500sq m.

Two years ago, a Mitre 10 Mega store and a Pak ‘N’ Save supermarket were slated for the site but Porter won’t name names for now.

“We’re working with big national brands and are now working with architects to get building under way in 2010.”

The first two buildings are likely to be just south of the shopping centre – retail with either apartments
or offices above.

The expansion will add 900 carparks to the existing 700, plus a “town centre green” with children’s playground.

Notwithstanding the recession, traffic to Remarkables Park has grown by about seven per cent throughout this year, with more than 4000 vehicles daily, Porter says.

“The success of Remarkables Park is [that] this is a very strong locals’ centre and it’s provided a lot of affordable shopping.”

Porter confirms stage two of the development has also been offered to DNZ “but we are not reliant on somebody buying it”.

“We’ll do what we did on [stage one] – we’ll build it and lease it ourselves and at some stage we’ll sell it.

“But if somebody comes along and puts their hand up now and says we want to buy it and do the development or wants us to do the development for them, we’ll do that, because we are land developers – we’re not shopping centre developers as such.”