A Bendemeer property owner who’s bought 23 neighbouring sections promises to “breathe life” back into the high-end Lake Hayes subdivision.
Dunedin-raised entrepreneur Alistair Jeffery this week settled on the 23 unsold lots, for an undisclosed sum, with the receivers of Rakaia River Holdings.
Jeffery bought his first Bendemeer section about five years ago from original developers Ross Allan and Richmond Paynter.
Allan and Paynter bought the 110ha Bendemeer spread for $24 million in 2003, built two award-winning entertainment venues, The Woolshed and The Lakeside Pavilion, and sold some $1m-plus sections before falling over.
The 23 unsold sections were then bought by Christchurch developer Phillip Burmester’s Rakaia River Holdings, which also fell over.
Rakaia River Holdings’ receivers – appointed last November – initially accepted a $1.2m deposit from a company formed by Dunedin businessman Paul Nicholson.
However, Nicolson failed to settle the $10.8m balance by the due date, so the receivers then accepted Jeffery’s offer.
Jeffery, 45, says he’s been a “fan” of the Bendemeer development for a long time.
“The essence of what [Allan and Paynter] were trying to do was just fine.
“It’s a great idea to take one of the best undeveloped big blocks of land that was available and then try to create a high-end community like that.
“Clearly they were caught out in the global financial crisis.”
Jeffery – who has a PhD in mining – has owned an international residential and commercial mortgage-lending business, Bluestone, since 2000.
His Bendemeer purchase – by his newly-formed company, Mount Farm Ventures – was supported with a senior and mezzanine loan from the Bank of New Zealand.
“It’s a great sign that mainstream banks are identifying good-quality opportunities coming out of the downturn and they’re prepared to fund new equity into them,” Jeffery says.
Jeffery stresses he won’t rush to sell down his new 28ha parcel.
“We’re meeting as a team this week to kick off the formal brainstorming of the [sales] strategy.
“We’ll develop the strategy over the next few months and then execute it over the next few years.”
Jeffery says his enquiry register is “already starting to fill up quite fast”.
Some property maintenance will be undertaken, he notes.
Jeffery also plans to get involved in Bendemeer’s management company, whose board will include owners of some of the estate’s other 20 sections.
“We may recruit a project management capability into the team so we’ve got someone who can facilitate, particularly for offshore buyers, procuring contracts and architects and all the other things they need.
“We’re very keen to have an international flavour to the site as well as a domestic flavour.”
Jeffery says Bendemeer already has “a very good-quality set of [building] covenants and controls”.
Plans to expand The Woolshed and build a lodge might also be dusted off, he adds.
“When you live offshore and come back, you just realise how Queenstown ranks on the global scale – I’m not sure that message is pushed out quite as well as it could be into the international market.
“There’s all the instability and uncertainty in the world these days, both politically and economically.
“Then you’ve got NZ, which has a remarkably stable economy and political system, and then you’ve got Queenstown, which is sat there remarkably unspoilt.”