Heritage Veneer


Mountaineer redevelopers face mixed public reaction – but strong leasing.

A mixed reaction to the $35 million redevelopment of Queenstown’s heritage Mountaineer building isn’t fazing the developers.

“We wanted people to either love it or hate it,” Westwood Group Holdings co-developer John Stevenson says.

He and his cohorts have essentially restored the two-level Beach and Rees Street facades from the original 1880s hotel.

Two new floors, recessed 45 degrees, have been added on top to make the most of the zoned 12-metre height limit, with a steel-based structure added to the Beach St/Shotover St corner block.

“Our main concern was to avoid facadism,” Stevenson says.

“I think we’ve pulled if off but there will probably be a sector that hates it.”

An example of facadism is the historic Clarendon Hotel in Christchurch, where only the frontage has been retained and an unrelated multi-storey building has sprouted from the interior.

Keeping the Mountaineer facades was a $2m-plus exercise, co-developer Tony Butson says.

Original schist, bricks and timber have also been reused inside.

Westwood Group Holdings, which owns seven other buildings in or near Queenstown’s CBD, including Steamer Wharf and Outside Sports, bought the prime-site property for $7.5m in 2003, spending another $900,000 to secure the head lease.

Deconstruction of the dilapidated building – including an $80,000 archaeological dig – began in October 2007 after extensive planning and consultation with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and Queenstown Lakes District Council’s urban design panel.

“By the time you meet seismic, fire and structural codes and provide access paths, all you do is put skin on the outside,” Butson says.

The project was delayed nine weeks after a consultant underestimated dewatering volumes.

With the 4000sq m building due to open during Winter Festival next month, 80 per cent of space has been rented with 12 leases signed – the rent roll sits at 89 per cent of budget, the developers say.

Ground floor anchor tenants are apparel and equipment stores Quiksilver and Kathmandu, which returns to the Rees/Shotover St corner.

Those two key tenants are also taking the basement space.

Also on the ground floor are Jewellers Bench and Betty’s Liquor, which both return, plus a convenience store and fashion retailer Andrea Moore.

The Mountaineer interior includes a 12m-high atrium and chimney with open fires on each level.

First-floor tenants include Heaven Hair Nail & Skin Bar run by Jill Harper and Jen Hodgson, and Mountain Deli operated by Sam Topliff and Gary Stephen.

Top-floor office space is taken by hospitality companies St George Trust and Good Group, while Global Publications and Browns Sotheby’s International Realty are on the level below.

Ground floor rental averages a healthy $1200-$1300 per sq m and $300-$400 upstairs.

Coronet Property Management, owned by three of Westwood’s eight directors – Stevenson, Butson and local accountant Chris Duffy, manages and leases the complex.

The building has been designed by Walker Architects and built by Rilean Construction.