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Investment company New Ground Capital (NGC) is contracted to buy a 1ha site below the Remarkables Park Town Centre and opposite Southern Institute of Technology’s Queenstown apartments at Frankton.
About 200 units are proposed in a mixture of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, with capacity for up to 600 staff in the three five-level buildings.
The company proposed a six-storey, 143-unit worker housing complex in Gorge Rd, valued at $30 million, last year.
Despite gaining resource consent, NGC did not go ahead because it could not make the figures for the site stack up.
NGC managing director Roy Thompson, who also owns Pog Mahone’s pub in Queenstown, said he always intended developing a second complex at Frankton.
He hoped employers would take up head leases on most of the new units and was seeking expressions of interest.
Given the growth at Queenstown Airport and in the retail, construction, education and hotel sectors, as well as staff servicing the planned conference centre nearby, he believed there would be considerable demand for worker accommodation in Frankton.
It was estimated there were more than 1000 staff employed between the airport and Remarkables Park alone.
The airport employs about 700 staff across 60 organisations.
QAC chief executive Colin Keel said in a statement the company supported and was interested in any initiative which encouraged affordable housing for workers.
Mr Thompson believed the complex could also appeal to downtown Queenstown employers, particularly given the $2 bus trial scheduled to begin in November.
"One of the things that all employers struggle with, when they’re trying to recruit new people to town, is that if they can’t find accommodation, oftentimes you can’t get them."
NGC’s proposal, he said, "will help employers to recruit and retain valued staff by securing access to healthy, comfortable accommodation in a great location with incredible mountain views".
Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ann Lockhart described NGC’s proposal as a "great initiative" and believed there would be other developments in central Queenstown and the wider Wakatipu to accommodate workers.
Remarkables Park Ltd chief executive Alastair Porter said the company had worked closely with NGC "to provide them with a site at value that works for affordable accommodation".
"We’re also addressing traffic problems by giving people the option to live close to their work, shopping, recreation options and public transport."
As a result, Mr Porter expected most residents would not require cars.In time, he said, there would also be a nearby jet ferry service providing a link to downtown Queenstown.
Mr Thompson expected a resource consent application to be filed in October. Given the site was already appropriately zoned, he hoped site works could begin early next year and the first apartments complete by Christmas 2018.
He said it was too soon to give a build cost, but confirmed "it’s a very expensive project".
Rents would be at market value, he said.
- Philip Chandler