Housing corridor under way

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Groundwork’s started on the first accommodation complex in a former central Queenstown industrial area.

The Alex is a 48-unit, $15 million terraced housing development with six retail premises, being built on the corner of Gorge Road and Hallenstein Street.

Its developer, Aucklander Tony Gapes, has also applied to build two seven-storey hotels – one of 195 rooms, the other 205 rooms – along with 64 apartments at 75 Gorge Rd.

Meanwhile, Ngai Tahu Property and the government’s KiwiBuild announced plans in March to build more than 300 homes on the old Wakatipu High School site, on the other side of Gorge Rd.

Gapes says he’s also aware of two other accommodation developments planned for Gorge Rd.

He notes that this area’s “the last piece of land that’s close to town, apart from the [Lakeview] land, that you can do anything of any scale on”.

Another developer, New Ground Capital, earlier planned a $30m worker housing complex at 75 Gorge Rd.

It couldn’t make the figures stack up, but is now developing a similar complex at Frankton’s Remarkables Park.

Though this Gorge Rd corridor’s been approved as a special housing area, allowing fast-tracked developments, Gapes says he’s gone through the council’s normal planning process for his two projects.

He originally negotiated with Arrow International to build The Alex, before that company placed itself in voluntary administration in February.

His own company’s now acting as the main contractor for the ground-floor retail and carparking, while retaining Christchurch-based Acium Construction to build the terraced housing above.

“This was probably the quickest and easiest way of pulling it together because we didn’t really have time to go out to tender with a whole lot of other builders,” he says.

Gapes expects the ground-floor concrete podium will be ready in June/July, with the terraced houses ready by next June/July.

He says so far 40 of the 48 units have pre-sold, ranging from $449,000 for one-bedroom units to about $1m for three- to four-bedroom ones.

With one-bedroom units more popular than two-bedders, some of the latter were split into two.

Gapes says about half his buyers are locals, with the balance from Auckland, while there’s a mix of investors and owner-occupiers.

Investors can choose between letting out long-term or short-term, as the resource consent allows for visitor accommodation.

Gapes has let out only one retail unit so far, but he thinks there’ll be good interest with so much nearby development pending.

“We see them mainly being food and beverage-type units.”

Also, while only six minutes’ walk from the CBD, “it’s a much cheaper alternative for a lot of retailers who don’t want to pay $1800 a [square] metre [in rent]”.

Meanwhile, Gapes says he has an operator signed up for one of his two hotels.

He hopes to get going on this project in the third quarter of this year.

scoop@scene.co.nz