Captain Cook on track for reopening

Naylor Love apprentice Benn Edwards works on earthquake strengthening of a wall outside the Captain Cook Tavern. Photo by Craig Baxter.The North Dunedin bar scene is making a comeback, and the owners of the Captain Cook Tavern are confident it will reopen in time for next year's Orientation.

Noel Kennedy, one of three directors of Orari Street Properties Investments Ltd which owns the building, said designs for a revitalised Captain Cook Tavern were completed last week and estimated construction costs were ''well within budget''.

''It's absolutely 100%, barring some ridiculous tender figures coming in.

''Everyone's pretty excited, to be honest,'' he said.

Work to demolish the most recent additions to the building and return it closer to its original shape was already well under way.

The owners wanted the historic bar to help bring people back from a crowded Octagon.

This comes after last year's closure and the earlier loss of the Gardens Tavern and The Bowler - both bought by the University of Otago - put a once-vibrant North Dunedin bar scene under threat.

Mr Kennedy said a preliminary agreement had been made with someone who would take over the lease of the bar, which would likely be finalised after construction tenders came in.

''We want to get the Cook up and running by the end of this year if we can, and certainly before the students return next year.''

He would not reveal precise details about how much the work would cost, but said it would be in the ''millions''.

The level of interest from people looking to be part of a revitalised Captain Cook Tavern showed it was viable to run a bar in the North End, something which was questioned when the bar closed last year.

''Frankly, some of the big brewers that feigned lack of interest way back are now desperate to get involved again.

''We are in a position to basically say to them `no, you have left your run too late','' he said.

The reopening of the Cook, if all went to plan, would follow the Lone Star, which already ''dragged people back to that end of town'', and the Cook's owners were looking at linking the two developments.

''We hope to have a complex around the Cook that will add to ... bringing people back from the Octagon towards the university The new Cook would not be a ''drinking barn as it was before'' and would be focused on more than just students.

''We want it intimate. It would be nice to get a good eclectic group back in the bar, like it used to be in the good old days,'' he said.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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