Housing fix found

Very accommodating: Developer Roy Thompson, left, and Remarkables Park chief executive Alastair Porter on the site of a proposed worker housing complex on the corner of Cherry Blossom and Copper Beach Avenues

A huge proposed worker housing complex at Queenstown’s Remarkables Park promises to help solve one of the resort’s most pressing problems.

New Ground Capital (NGC) is contracted to buy a one hectare-plus site below Remarkables Park Town Centre, and opposite Southern Institute Technology’s local apartments.

It plans to house up to 600 staff in three five-level buildings.

The 200 or so units will be a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

NGC proposed a 143-unit worker housing complex in central Queenstown last year.

Despite gaining a resource consent for the six-storey, $30 million Gorge Road project, it pulled the pin because it couldn’t make the figures stack on the site.

NGC boss Roy Thompson, who owns Pog Mahone’s pub in the CBD, says he’d always intended developing a second complex at Frankton.

He’s hoping employers will take up head leases on the majority of the new units, and is calling for expressions of interest.

He thinks there’ll be considerable demand in Frankton alone, from the growing airport, retail, construction, education and hotel sectors, along with staff servicing the planned nearby conference centre.

It’s estimated there are more than 1000 staff employed between the airport and Remarkables Park alone.

With the $2 bus trial starting in November, Thompson believes the complex could also appeal to downtown Queenstown employers.

“One of the things that all employers struggle with, when they’re trying to recruit new people to town, is that if they can’t find accommodation, often times you can’t get them.”

NGC’s proposal, he says, “will help employers to recruit and retain valued staff by securing access to healthy, comfortable accommodation in a great location with incredible mountain views”.

Remarkables Park Ltd chief executive Alastair Porter says they’ve worked closely with NGC “to provide them with a site at value that works for affordable accommodation”.

“We’re also addressing traffic problems by giving people the option to live close to their work, shopping, recreation options and public transport.”

As a result, Porter expects most residents won’t require cars.

In time he says there’ll also be a nearby jet ferry service providing a link to downtown Queenstown.

Thompson says apartment residents will have their own bathroom and cooking facilities, but there’ll be an accent on shared spaces like lounge areas and a cafe and bar to provide a sense of community.

Dunedin’s Mason & Wales Architects, who are responsible for a number of Remarkables Park buildings, have been commissioned to design the complex.

They beat off off Australian and Auckland firms in a design competition.

Once their plans are finalised, Thompson expects to file a resource consent application in October.

With the site already appropriately zoned, he hopes site works will begin early next year, with the first apartments available before Christmas next year.

He says it’s too soon to give a build cost, but confirms “it’s a very expensive project”.

Rents will be at market value, he says.