Time finally called on historic pub

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The clock is ticking for Queenstown’s landmark Arthurs Point Tavern – it’s earmarked to be bulldozed.
Stonework has already come off the disused, run-down boozer and it’s only a matter of time before it’s flattened.
Co-owner Rick Pettit is waiting to swap the crumbling building with Queenstown Lakes District Council for prime roadside land out front, adding to the carpark he already owns opposite. 

“The deal is I take over the road [in front], they take over the pub,” Pettit says – no money changes hands. 

QLDC would then demolish the hotel and replace it with a straightened roadway as part of its Gorge Road upgrade. 

A pub’s been on the site since the 1880s but it’s not a Historic 

Places Trust-protected building because it’s been too heavily modified, Pettit says. 

“But when it is demolished, Historic Places will want someone on site in case there’s anything of significant interest underneath the building.” 

Meantime, Pettit says he let a stonemason take stone off the building that otherwise might have ended up in the dump. 

Apart from the land swap, QLDC has two other steps to take before bowling the tavern. 

QLDC project manager Lane Vermaas says it needs to legalise the road reserve out front, then design and cost the roadworks including a new two-lane McChesney Bridge nearby. 

Former councillor Pettit says if someone else had bought the pub and developed it, QLDC might have faced a bill for millions of dollars to wind a safer road around it. 

Pettit and business partner Paul Halford have drawn up $10 million plans for a tavern, apartments, offices and shops across the current road, on the pub’s former carpark above the Shotover River. 

Pettit says their second design received glowing praise from QLDC’s urban design panel, but those plans are on hold in the current economic climate.