The trans-Tasman developers of Queenstown’s Lakeview–Taumata residential and retail precinct are gearing up for marketing and sales at the $1 billion development after it was referred to an expert consenting panel.

The fast-track referral is for the first two stages of the 10-hectare development at the elevated upper Cemetery Rd end of the central business district.
It will cover five residential buildings of between nine and 13 stories with about 370 residential units, including about 137 designed as 'co living' units to house itinerant workers.

The referral, granted on Friday, still needs to go through an Environmental Protection Authority process ahead of final design plan approval.

Developers include Melbourne-developer Ninety Four Feet, ASX-listed Centuria Capital and Auckland’s Britomart Hospitality. The lead construction contractor is Naylor Love. 

It's the second major project for Ninety Four Feet, which broke ground in July on a $250 million, upmarket hotel and apartment at 51 Albert St in Auckland and has its eyes set on a Wakefield St, Wellington development. 

Ninety Four Feet NZ general manager Paul Burnaby said the referral was "one big step" towards consent, with preliminary construction then expected to start in early 2023.

Off plan sales and marketing will start in advance of that next year, he said.

The development will ultimately feature over 500 apartments, as well as retail and three hotels. Studio suites are expected to start at about $500,000, Burnaby said.

Intercontinental Hotel group's luxury Indigo Hotels brand, which will feature at 51 Albert, has also been named as a likely hotel partner at Lakeview-Taumata. 

Ultimately, the project will extend across seven phases to be built over a span of between 10 and 15 years.

Fixing housing shortage

The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) has already had costs balloon during site preparation for the project, with an expected $55m price tag more than double the expected budget for stormwater and other infrastructure work and removal of contamination on the site.

Burnaby, a New Zealander who relocated to Queenstown last year to work on the project, said the mixed-use development represents one of Queenstown’s biggest ever construction projects, with room for about 1,500 residents, alongside public reserves and a new central retail plaza.

“The fast-track referral presents an opportunity to expedite construction and that takes us closer to more residential housing, which remains in critically short supply in Queenstown.”

The QLDC and developers expect the development to create 595 permanent jobs during the construction lifecycle of the precinct, with the initial stages creating 370 jobs. 

“It’s an extension of the CBD, so the ground floor will be retail hospitality, so think of Queenstown but up on the hill. That’s where our partner Britomart will come in and make sure it’s a place people want to be.”

He said it’ll become a precinct in its own right in terms of what it offers to Queenstown, but it will also connect nicely while the CBD grows towards Lakeview. “The Britomart experience is what we’re looking for.”

Rick Herd, chief executive of Naylor Love, said it was also positive timing for the Lakes district. “If any centre has suffered as a result of covid it has been Queenstown, so we’d see this as an anchor for the town."

Ultimately, it will also allow for regional critical mass and promote business continuity by becoming self-supporting, rather than suffering the impacts of “tourism vagaries”, he said.