Queenstown property confidence lifted by $180m of planned work

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Queenstown has pipped Auckland to top a property investment confidence survey.

The survey results comes as the pipeline of commercial development over the next two years hits an estimated $180 million-plus. 

According to Colliers International’s latest quarterly survey, commercial property investors view Queenstown as the most positive region in New Zealand in which to invest.

Queenstown, with a net positive score of 52 per cent, heads off Auckland, on 49 per cent, and Christchurch, on 43 per cent.

The results mean that of those surveyed, 52 per cent expect better rather than worse conditions for commercial property investment in Queenstown over the next year.

Queenstown last topped the poll, which surveys 11 regions, 18 months ago, before surrendering its lead to Christchurch then, more latterly, Auckland.

“There’s nothing better than beating Auckland to the line, is there,” local Colliers director Mark Simpson says.

Simpson believes the confidence in Queenstown stems from rapid population and visitor growth which in turn has fuelled the surge in commercial construction activity.

This sector, both here and throughout New Zealand, was very quiet during the global financial crisis, he says.

Over the next 12 months, however, he’s picking $100 million-plus will be spent on local commercial projects – about double the tally over the past year.

On the Frankton Flats those projects include three shopping complexes – Stage 1A of Five Mile, The Landing and an extension to Remarkables Park Town Centre – and an expansion of the airport terminal.

There’s also the new Shotover Primary School, Remarkables Ski Area expansion and new Outside Sports building in the Queenstown CBD.

Over the 12 months following, Simpson forecasts another $80m-plus will be spent on commercial development.

Those projects include Stage 1B of Five Mile, Pak ‘N’ Save and Mega Mitre 10 complexes at Frankton’s Shotover Park, more Remarkables Park Town Centre development, the new Wakatipu High at Remarkables Park and Skyline’s lakefront building in the Queenstown CBD.

In addition, Simpson points to infrastructure projects on the Frankton Flats like the new Glenda Drive and Grant Road state highway roundabouts and the eastern access road, together with the long-awaited Kawarau Falls bridge replacement project.

He notes a lot of these projects, including Five Mile, have been in the pipeline for a long while – “but they’re happening now”.

He believes the secret to the commercial projects has been pre-letting.

Alan McMahon, Colliers International’s head of national research and consulting, says the scale of proposed development, for the size of Queenstown, is incredible.

“That’s a lot of money for a small town.”