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The owner of the historic building has been granted resource consent to add an extra storey to buildings next door at 21 and 25 Fryatt St, the latter the Wharf Hotel, and to build 10 apartments.
Russell Lund said yesterday the development was intended to ''prove the market''.
If it was successful he would begin the larger redevelopment of the Loan and Mercantile building, but he said access from the city across the Rattray St railway line was one important aspect of that project going ahead.
Mr Lund received consent for the work, and for the continuation of the existing use of the Wharf Hotel and restaurant, on Monday.
The consent was non-notified despite some aspects being non-complying, after it received written approval from affected parties, including Monarch Wildlife Cruises, Port Otago and Progressive Plastics.
Council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said planners had concluded the effects of the redevelopment, in a Port 2 zone, would be no more than minor.
The hotel already offered accommodation, and the development did not have the effect on businesses that opposed the Loan and Mercantile development, like Kaan's Catering Supplies and Farra Engineering.
Those businesses reached an agreement last year which meant Mr Lund gained consent to redevelop the top floor of the building after an Environment Court process.
The new consent was for a third storey stepped back from the facade.
The intention was for a ''heritage themed'' commercial work space on the ground floor of the building directly beside the Loan and Mercantile building.
Mr Lund said yesterday once building consents were in place he was ''keen to progress things quickly'' at the smaller buildings, which he said were run down after decades of neglect.
One building was formerly a Gregg's coffee factory, built in 1875 and used until 1935, when the company moved to its Forth St premises.
He said its original facade with arched windows and sign-writing would be reinstated.
Mr Lund said Gregg's had offered him a large roaster that had been on the site pre-1935 and which had been used at Forth St until 2011, which would be placed in the Fryatt St building's foyer.
He said he hoped an overbridge at Rattray St would be built so the Loan and Mercantile redevelopment could also go ahead.
''There seems to be a renewed enthusiasm from the council to get an overbridge and link the waterfront into the heritage precinct and the city.
''Right at the moment, without good access into the city, it would be a big gamble to justify going ahead and doing the Loan and Merc conversion.''
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said in June he remained in favour of a pedestrian/cycleway bridge to the waterfront as a way of encouraging redevelopment of the harbourside.
A council spokesman said yesterday discussions with stakeholders were ongoing.
In the past year, Mr Lund has also talked about short-stay waterfront apartments and a large commercial space for the Loan and Mercantile building, and yesterday said he had spoken to a national hotel operator interested in it becoming an apartment-style hotel.
''That's still a possibility.''
Dunedin City Council urban design team leader Crystal Filep said Mr Lund's investment was significant in terms of the council's goals in the central city plan, and for any pedestrian and cycle link.
''It's quite an exciting project, and builds on the momentum in that part of the city, including the warehouse precinct.''