Locals call time on eyesore pub on tourist route

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The under-fire owner of a crumbling eyesore on a popular Wakatipu tourist route says he has no desire to “piss off” the community. 

Disgruntled Queenstowners have been making noises about the derelict Arthurs Point Tavern – owned by former councillor Rick Pettit and business partner Paul Halford – for months. 

The latest to complain is Blanket Bay lodge boss Philip Jenkins, who commutes past the shabby tavern, situated on the road linking Queenstown to Coronet Peak and Arrowtown. 

Jenkins, who’s complained to local mayor Vanessa van Uden, tells Mountain Scene “it is very disappointing that visitors to this part of the world are left with an impression of this derelict building with smashed windows”. 

He goes on: “We spend tonnes of money trying to position ourselves as this glorious destination, then you get Hendo’s Hole at the main entrance to Queenstown and this at the other end of town – it’s not a good look.” 

The bashed-up building is being demolished by Pettit as part of a land-swap agreement with Queenstown Lakes District Council which has dragged on for four years, Pettit says. 

“I have no desire or intention to piss the community off – but the wheels of council turn slowly,” he maintains. 

Pettit: “Basically it took council four years to work out what it wanted to do with the road, so while all that was going on it wasn’t really necessary to demolish the pub.” 

Pettit says once he gets his “ass into gear” and applies for resource consent to remove the decaying boozer, it could be razed within a few weeks. 

“I certainly would like to see the building gone and the site cleared before tourist buses start making their way to Coronet Peak.” 

An agreement to swap part of the pub site for prime riverside land so the road can be realigned is still being thrashed out with QLDC and goes before the council on June 28. 

QLDC project manager Lane Vermaas says the council has never had anything to do with demolishing the “real eyesore”. 

In the meantime, Lakes Environmental has stipulated that broken windows and doors need to be covered this week for safety reasons. 

Work on the road – including a new double lane McChesney Bridge – isn’t likely to start till after the snow season, Vermaas adds.