Queenstown’s sprawling council hunts for new home

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Queenstown’s council is putting out feelers for new offices to create what it calls “a one-stop shop”. 

The plan is for the council’s 82 staff and another 70-75 employees of council-owned regulatory company Lakes Environmental to move in together. 

Being scattered over seven locations at present “creates operating inefficiencies in running the business of council and confusion for the community”, a July 11 official document says. 

The document calls for “expressions of interest” on about 3000 to 3500 square metres of centrally-located Queenstown commercial space. 

As a comparison, the floor area on top of the Man Street carpark is about 4000sq m, Mountain Scene understands.
The council will look at either existing buildings or greenfield developments. 

It’s also an open question whether Queenstown Library moves into the new premises or stays put. Other aspects of the document also show the council is casting its net widely. 

While the preference is for “one building to accommodate all council functions”, a lease-back redevelopment of the present Gorge Road building “with a small campus of other buildings in the immediate vicinity” could be an option. 

Council land might also be available for some kind of joint-venture development, the document states – and lease-to-buy could be a possibility too. 

However, a lavish new $100 million civic centre – mooted under the previous mayoralty of Clive Geddes – looks dead as a dodo. 

“The option of council undertaking its own development of a civic centre is not being considered now,” the document says. 

Developers and commercial landlords will be attracted by another strong signal of the council becoming a long-term occupant of new premises – the document talks of “a 20-plus-year timeframe” and suggests a lease totalling 30 years, including rights of renewal. 

Expressions of interest are due by August 31. 

Proposals must include an applicant’s development track record, financial and funding bona fides, details of the likely design team – and three references. 

The council will then either seek tenders, issue a “request for proposal” or simply negotiate with a preferred party. 

Lobbying of councillors or council staff by property entrepreneurs is banned – anyone doing so risks being disqualified, the document warns. 

The council’s existing Gorge Road headquarters was bought in the late 1990s after the Wakatipu Club, which developed the building, went broke. 

The land and building are now valued at $5.7m. 

Council acting chief executive Stewart Burns says expression of interest information is available at the council website and expressions close next month.