Hole and back

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The new owner of Queenstown’s infamous “Hendo’s Hole” eyesore will shell out megabucks to fill most of it back in. 

The 2.4 ha site on Frankton’s outskirts was dug out for a massive, two-level underground carpark to service embattled Christchurch developer Dave Henderson’s ambitious Five Mile township. 

About 350,000 cubic metres – some 50,000 truckloads – of earth was removed four years ago before Henderson’s plans to build a $2 billion gateway township for 10,000 people fell over. 

Now new owner, Auckland developer Tony Gapes, will dig deep to fill it back in – possibly even using the same dirt. 

He estimates the refill alone will cost about $1.5 million. 

It’s quite a bit of cash, Gapes concedes. 

“Especially since someone’s paid to dig the hole and now we’re putting it back in.” 

Gapes’s company Queenstown Gateway bought the site as part of Five Mile’s 7.8ha stage one late last year and has earmarked it for a supermarket. He paid $21m, Mountain Scene understands. 

To meet his downsized development plans, Gapes expects to fill in the hole’s bottom half and half of its upper slice, still leaving underground parking for 300 to 400 vehicles. 

Perfectly poised to refill “Hendo’s Hole” is Christchurch contractor Buzz March, who excavated it in the first place. 

His company, March Construction, scattered what it removed over the 23ha balance of the Five Mile site, on the other side of Grant Road. 

March claims he still owns the fill as part of his original contract with Henderson. 

March says he’s happy to nego­tiate a contract with Gapes, who’s already had a discussion with March’s son Guy.

“The fill we have there is handy and ready,” March says. 

“It stands to commonsense to fill it from the closest resource, and the closest resource is the fill that we own.
“We’d just be looking at a fair market value for it.” 

Henderson reportedly owed March Construction about $300,000 for the 2006 dig, but March says the two parties settled. 

Gapes won’t comment on whether he’ll re-employ March to refill the hole. 

But Gapes questions whether March still owns the fill. 

“Under property law you own what’s attached to the land,” Gapes says. 

Mountain Scene understands Gapes has an option to buy Five Mile’s remaining 23ha

Five Mile’s makeover

Tony Gapes admits his Five Mile stage one plans are far less ambitious than Dave Henderson’s failed township. 

“But to be fair, in the last couple of years the market has changed an enormous amount,” he says. 

The anchor tenant will be a 4000-5000sq m Countdown supermarket – brand owner Progressive Enterprises is Gapes’s first mortgage holder. 

The balance of his 4ha site will comprise “a large retail component, a reasonable residential component and probably a small amount of offices”. 

“We’ve contacted all sorts of retailers and had a pretty positive response from all types,” Gates says.
Real estate company Colliers International is seeking expressions of interest from national and international retailers. 

Brisbane architect Peter Zillman has been engaged, but Gapes says the design will also be dictated by Queenstown Lakes District Council and its urban design panel. 

“It will be a good-looking Queenstown development but we ourselves don’t know what it looks like yet.”
He hopes the supermarket will be open by the middle of next year. 

He’s unsure whether to keep the Five Mile name: “I don’t know whether it’s been tainted.”