Local set to buy neglected hotel

The former Junction Hotel is all but sold to a local buyer, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says. Photo: Hamish MacLean
The former Junction Hotel is all but sold to a local buyer, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says. Photo: Hamish MacLean
The sale of the long-vacant, dilapidated Junction Hotel at Oamaru's southern entrance - to a local buyer - is imminent, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

Mr Kircher listed a March 22 meeting about the hotel in this month's mayor's report and yesterday, speaking from Wellington, confirmed he had had ''a number of meetings'' with the expected local buyer of the Category 2 historic place in Wansbeck St.

He declined to name the buyer, or his intentions for the building, which at present was ''a bit of an eyesore'', but he said the sale was pending and would result in a refurbished building.

''They're keen to get in and renovate the building, to put it back into good order, which obviously ... we would be very, very pleased,'' Mr Kircher said.

''It's certainly seen by many as a gateway to our heritage buildings and at the moment it's not a great look, it's very unloved.

''To have it refurbished and back in everyday use would be a fantastic opportunity.''

Heritage New Zealand calls the Junction Hotel ''a significant landmark on the southern State Highway entrance to Oamaru''.

''In design and decoration it is similar in style to the Oamaru stone buildings, which the town is renowned for. Its positioning on a prominent hilltop site is an indication of its past use for accommodation largely by visiting farmers, due to its proximity to grazing and the saleyards for stock, and en route to nearby Kakanui,'' the site's listing reads.

''The story it tells of financial difficulty and bankruptcy of owners is one not always as evident in stories of our colonial past. Its subsequent history and particularly the de-licensing as a result of the vote for No License in 1906 gives an interesting indication of the effects of prohibition with the building rendered useless for its original function as a licensed premises for the next 50 years.''

Mr Kircher said the building had been neglected for about 20 years.

''From my recollection, it's been deteriorating for at least that long,'' he said.

''It was in part-use. It's basically been very underutilised for a very long time.''

He said the expected buyer had been put in touch with the council's new heritage adviser Heather Bauchop to discuss ''some of the heritage funding that is available for privately-owned heritage buildings''.

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