Has Frankton's David become Goliath?

As Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, ''Tthere is nothing permanent except change.'' When applied to Queenstown, never a truer word was spoken. In recent decades, countless stories in the Otago Daily Times have been dedicated to development in the resort and in recent years those stories have focused on development at Frankton. Queenstown reporter Tracey Roxburgh looks at the impact on the heart and soul of the Wakatipu - the Queenstown CBD.

It is the mountain resort version of David and Goliath - the question is, which one is which?

On one hand, there is Queenstown's central business district.

The compact network of bars, restaurants, cafes, tourist shops, clothing and specialty retailers is constantly buzzing with tourists and residents.

From sunrise until sunset, and the hours in between, Queenstown's energy is unique.

About 7km to the east is Frankton.

Until about 14 years ago, the suburb was primarily a residential development, with a small shopping centre known as Frankton Village and an airport yet to realise its full potential.

Enter Remarkables Park Ltd.

Commercial development at the site began in 2000. Four years later, with five major stores already open, RPL managing director Alastair Porter, who works closely with brothers John and Neville, unveiled plans to spend $1.2 billion developing a second town centre at the site.

Now, work is under way on the second stage of Remarkables Park - to include a conference centre, visitor accommodation and retail, among other things, with work to establish a ferry link.

And others are following the Porter brothers' lead.

A decade ago, it was clear that Queenstown's CBD was Goliath but, given the frenzy of commercial activity at Frankton, one wonders if that title has shifted east.

Another question is, does it matter?

Are their markets so distinctly different - except the bar trade, perhaps - that the two can live side by side without a slingstone being thrown in anger?

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has plans to expand the CBD by rezoning land from high-density residential to Queenstown Town Centre, which would include the council's Lakeview site, pegged for a convention centre, and additional privately owned land between that and the existing CBD.

Its goal is to better utilise land available for commercial, community and residential activities.

Add to that Skyline Enterprises' planned $6 million, three-storey development on a prime site within the CBD, totalling 781sq m.

It is anticipated the building will house high-end retail, premium office space and visitor accommodation.

Subject to building consents, construction should begin this year and it should be open within 12 months.

At Frankton, a key feature of the landscape is large construction sites, with buildings popping up like mushrooms in autumn.

Four separate staged developments, including Remarkables Park, are progressing. All are scheduled to be partly open and operating within the next 12 months, and more is coming.

The contentious and drawn-out Plan Change 19: Frankton Flats, which will open up another 60ha of land to be developed, is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.

On Monday, it will be back before the Environment Court in Christchurch for two weeks.

If or when it is finalised, the land will be opened up for a mix of residential and visitor accommodation, retail and some larger-scale industrial development.

In the middle of all of the developments sits an international airport - one of the fastest-growing in Australia and New Zealand - that has had 40% growth in passenger numbers since 2009 ... and it does not appear that growth will slow any time soon.

Within the next 12 months the staged developments will be partially open for business, including several ''big box'' retailers.

It is clear the vast majority of the commercial development in recent history has been at Frankton and it is obvious that will not stop in the foreseeable future.

And it is inevitable there will eventually be two town centres in the Wakatipu - but the consensus from business people, community leaders and developers is there will only ever be one CBD.

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