Plan to revitalise Gorge Road

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A project team is launching an edgy urban-industrial business precinct dubbed Silo, a seven-minute walk from Queenstown CBD.

The team is close to seeking resource consent for a 3000 square metre ‘creative and urban’ hub on the L-shaped site of the Carters hardware store, Gorge Road.

Plans for the business-zoned site, opposite Wakatipu High, comprise three main buildings, including a double-storey road frontage building, a three-storey structure against the hill, and large shared parking area. Subject to consent, building work commences in June when Carters moves to a new spot at Glenda Drive, Frankton.

The owners, an Eastern Bay of Plenty farming couple, are bowling the existing building as it doesn’t meet earthquake standards.

The project team comprises local landscape and urban design architects Baxter Design Group, Christchurch-based Nott Architects and local Ray White realtor and development manager Buzz Scown.

The team was inspired by cutting-edge mixed-use developments in the UK and US.

Architect Charlie Nott: “Silo is a unique proposition that perfectly marries modern high-tech construction with industrial design that stays true to the area’s heritage.”

Baxter Design Group director Paddy Baxter adds that Silo will be functional with an industrial and quirky feel: “Building forms are broken up with different material treatments and gable forms to reduce the perceived feel of bulk and scale. Silo has a crisp design and will be an eclectic development which is people-friendly and opens up the area once again.”

Scown believes it’ll help revitalise the Gorge Rd industrial area.

Scown’s in charge of tenants: “We’re looking for innovative, edgy, cool companies that fit the industrial look we’re going for.”

Already he says there’s interest from many parties including a cafe, delicatessen/boutique food store, bakery, graphic designers, architects and an art gallery.

Another party wants to open a franchise for Vespa scooters and incorporate it into a bike lounge.

Scown says the precinct particularly appeals to firms looking for large open-plan office space.

“It’s really for businesses that aren’t catered for any more in the Queenstown CBD – a lot of people need a certain amount of parking.

“The square metre rate in the CBD also makes it unaffordable for certain types of business.” 

Scown expects rentals to be $200 to $350 per sq m, compared with $1000 to $1300 for ground-floor CBD premises: “We’re not trying to introduce too much retail, and we’re not interested in dragging anything away from the centre.”

According to the project team’s design statement, it “might assist in reversing the flight of tenants to the Frankton Flats area”.

The project team presented its conceptual design last week to the Queenstown council’s urban design panel.

“They loved it,” Scown says.