Queenstown’s council to buy vital bypass land

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Queenstown’s council is poised to pick up the last piece of real estate for stage one of its CBD bypass.

The council’s infrastructure committee rubber-stamped a recommendation by officials to buy a bare section on Beetham Street, at its Tuesday meeting. 

The 500 square metre block of dirt is the last parcel which council requires to link Melbourne Street to Henry St.

Other properties have been bought over previous years, including several units in the old Ballarat Apartments complex.

The Melbourne-Henry link is intended to be the first stage of a proposed bypass continuing up Man St along Thompson St to the One Mile roundabout, a concept adopted in 2008 as a way to ease CBD congestion.

The crucial Beetham St site is owned by Californian company Continental Arbitrage Corporation which, according to a report for the council committee, wants an urgent sale so it can buy another Queenstown property.
The price is $865,000 against a current valuation of just $475,000.

“The immediate acquisition of the land would take advantage of the current situation where the land owner is seeking to sell the property,” council transport boss Denis Mander reports to councillors.

“This [purchase] would also ensure no further development of the property occurs ahead of the road link being constructed,” he adds.

Bypass design work is under way, Mander notes, and the council’s long-term plan anticipates construction between 2015-2018.

Setting out alternatives for councillors, Mander says the Beetham St land acquisition could be deferred.

However, postponement would risk the council coming up against an unwilling seller later – and compulsory acquisition could be “expensive and time consuming”, councillors are warned.

Once bypass design work is finished, the land purchase will be eligible for a subsidy from the NZ Transport Agency, Mander reports.