Walter Peak site advertised

Walter Peak. Picture from the ODT files
Walter Peak. Picture from the ODT files
It might be third time lucky for a multimillion-dollar luxury development at Walter Peak, across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown.

Today, a portion of the 38ha Walter Peak Estate site is advertised for mortgagee sale auction, to be held in Queenstown on September 5.

Most of the site - which has consent approval for $50 million lodge and subdivision development - has already been re-acquired by the owners of the adjacent Walter Peak Station.

Through two Overseas Investment Office decisions released yesterday, the station owners have signalled their intention to acquire the remaining chunks of land and progress the development by completing an indigenous planting requirement.

The decision summaries seen by the ODT were silent on the owners' intentions once the planting was complete.

Alexandra-based lawyer John Williamson, of Checketts McKay, who represents the station owners, said work on the large-scale planting project was started last year. It should be completed this year and take about three years to establish. He declined to comment on the owners' future plan for the land.

In a decision released by the OIO yesterday, Walter Peak Station co-owners Israelis Shmuel Meitar, and Morris, David and Benjamin Kahn, and United States couple Ian and Tonya Koblick have been granted retrospective consents to buy mortgage interests over 34.9ha of Walter Peak Estate land for an undisclosed sum.

At the same time, David and Morris Kahn and Mr Meitar were given OIO sign-off to become the beneficial owners of a freehold interest in the same land.

The vendor in both cases was Aviation Properties NZ, associated with now bankrupt property developer Rod Nielsen.

The genesis of the proposed $50 million development stretches back to 1999 - and was the brainchild of American investor and ocean explorer Mr Koblick.

But he baled out of the project and, in 2006, Mr Nielsen bought the plot - carved off the adjacent 27,000ha Walter Peak Station - for $10 million.

The Environment Court granted approval for the development and basic infrastructure was built.

But development company Walter Peak Developments - associated with Mr Nielsen and business partner Justin Russell - hit financial trouble and was placed in receivership in 2008, owing Strategic Finance $20.6 million.

It is thought South African tennis star Wayne Ferreira bought a section for $2.5 million before the development collapsed.

 -by David Williams

david.williams@odt.co.nz