By PHILIP CHANDLER
While construction’s virtually ground to a halt due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown, a developer’s continuing with excavation and retaining works for a $22 million, six-star boutique hotel in central Queenstown.
Developer Kevin Carlin says he’s got Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment consent for his Hallenstein Street site as the works are considered “essential” to stabilise a steep hillside.
“Our engineers wrote a report stating they thought it was prudent to keep going so the hillside does not slip in the event of a flash flood or minor earthquake, and the government agreed we should continue.”
Contractors on site have a copy of both this consent and a police clearance letter after the local council and cops queried why work was still going on, Carlin says.
He explains the retaining structure for Queenstown Views Villa comprises three five-metre-high retaining walls stepped into the hillside.
“We will apply to keep going as far as the foundation because it helps hold up the walls, so there’s a good three months of work.”
Carlin still hopes to open his 10-villa hotel, sleeping up to 50 people, in the third quarter of next year.
He says if he were building a three- or four-star hotel, he’d stop.
But he’s confident his timing will be right to open a six-star hotel in the second half of next year, by when a Covid-19 vaccine’s expected to be available.
“The beauty of five-star-plus is our clientele can still afford to travel after this [pandemic].
“I’m actually working with private jet charter services to bring guests from America and further afield, because the large airlines may not be fully onboard late next year.”
Carlin adds commercial real estate Jones Lang LaSalle “thinks our new hotel property could increase in value on completion due to less competition and an anticipated inflation of building costs, plus the ongoing strong demand for a new five- to six-star hotel located in central Queenstown”.
He says for health reasons, during construction, workers will have their temperatures checked on arriving on site and will have to wear face masks, safety glasses and gloves, while they’ll also be isolated in separate under-construction rooms, like bedrooms and bathrooms, for social distancing.
Carlin says he and his business partner have decided it’s not the time to sell off any villas, so they’ll retain both the property and the management rights.
He believes they’re also secure as they’re using cash, rather than a bank loan, to fund their development.
He’s also planning to fund – for $247,000 – the cost of undergrounding the powerlines in front of the hotel.
“I do not want our name to be joked at as being ‘Powerline Views’, we want it to be ‘Queenstown Views’.”
Meanwhile, Carlin’s also hoping his other CBD project, a 61-room, $70m high-end hotel, on the corner of Man and Brecon Sts, can also open, as planned, at the end of next year.
He sold down this site, in late 2018, to Augusta Capital, but retained a 50 per cent stake and is also the project’s development consultant.
Though this project’s on hold during the lockdown, Carlin’s hopeful the construction process can be speeded up when work resumes.
“We propose that construction [in New Zealand] could continue in a partial economic shutdown.
“Not every industry needs to suffer, and the economy needs some people going to work and paying taxes.”