About 150 years after the gold rush that sparked development
in Central Otago, the small town of Clyde is again under
development. It was recently described, alongside Cromwell,
by Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper as a ''beacon for
The once unnamed section of Fache St, now named Holloway St,
seems to be the hub of that development.
On one side of the street the schist and mud brick complex
known as Oliver's has, over the last few months, been
surrounded in scaffolding as builders work to restore and
convert it into a house.
On the other side of the street, new buildings housing
several businesses have been constructed from materials
designed to blend in with the 150-year old character of the
The land on this side of the street, owned by Clyde Claim
Services Ltd, was described by Mr Lepper as a ''rough, dead
Now, the 2.5ha section is a hive of activity with several new
businesses, including a restaurant, a cinema due to be
completed soon and construction of apartments about to start.
Mark Laing, credited by Mr Lepper as a driving force of the
development, is modest about his involvement and claims to be
''just a builder''.
He had teamed up with Kevin Braid, of Dunedin, to create
Clyde Claim after he had built a holiday house for Mr Braid
in Clyde about 20 years ago.
''Then we started scheming. The idea was to create a little
village. It was vacant, heritage land.''
Because it is classed as heritage land, Mr Laing said there
were ''millions'' of hoops to jump through to get their
development off the ground.
Those hoops were mainly to do with design but Mr Laing said
their intention was always to create something that would fit
with the historical nature of the town anyway - flat fronted
buildings in wood and corrugated iron.
The development gained consent from the council six years ago
and shortly after the small retail complex was open, then
mostly occupied by Touch Yarns. Now, Clyde's two newest
businesses, Bike It Now and Active Travel Company - both
owned by Ross and Petrea McRobie - occupy part of the
Shortly after the shops were completed, the restaurant was
opened and then the men turned their attention to the 175sq
m, 42-seat cinema.
However, their project stalled and although Mr Laing did not
want to say why, when pressed he blamed the ''economic
''It's taken way longer than we thought.''
Construction began again last October and will be completed
by the end of this month, though a final fit-out by an
audio-visual company was needed before it would open.
On the other side of the street, David and Andrea Ritchie are
the driving forces of the Oliver's restoration.
The complex, formerly Benjamin Naylor's Store and associated
buildings, has a category one rating with the New Zealand
Historic Places Trust and was built around 1870.
Within the half a hectare town block over which the complex
is sprawled are a total of eight stone buildings.
It operated as a store for about 100 years and then passed
through several owners before Fleur Sullivan bought it and
created the renowned Oliver's Restaurant and Lodge, which she
operated for about 20 years from the early 1980s.
It has had several other owners since then but had been
vacant for about three years before the Ritchies bought it,
almost three years ago.
In September last year they began renovating 11 boutique
accommodation rooms, both in the lodge and the former
stables, and then turned their attention to their new home -
what was a roofless barn and an adjacent shell of a building,
next to the accommodation complex.
Wanting to keep everything as original as possible, they
retained and incorporated the old doors and windows where
As well, ''everything we are doing internally can be taken
off'', Mr Ritchie said.
Their intention is to also restore the rest of the buildings,
although they do not have a clear timeline for that.
''It's our desire and expectation that there will be a wine
bar, restaurant and function centre.
''For us it's an investment. We love old buildings and think
they deserve to be looked after.''
Back on Clyde Claim's side of the road, construction of the
four apartments, next to the shops, is the next thing on the
Mr Laing said though all the necessary consents were in
place, they would like to sell one apartment before beginning
There had already been some interest.
Behind the retail and cinema area, there are four residential
plots, two of which have already been sold.
Mr Laing said there was also potential for another small
retail shop in front of the cinema, though there was a lot of
work to get through before that was fully considered.
''The whole idea was to build and then lease out the
buildings and hopefully create a wee bit of interest in Clyde
... like tourism.''