Timaru’s south Stafford St hotel project is now an urban disaster. The deal’s collapse comes as the Timaru District Holdings Ltd (TDHL) bought back the block of buildings from Thompson Engineering and Construction, with the notion that the project was now considered “not viable.”

Timaru civic designer, Nigel Gilkison, expressed his disappointment amidst the debacle.

“I don’t think that TDHL have the first clue as to what they are going to do with these sites,” Gilkison said. “It doesn’t seem like they have a credible plan, not any idea how to deliver it.”

The hotel was meant to be constructed on a 2000 sqm site currently occupied by the former Majestic Theatre building and two old retail shops. It was proposed for a 30 million dollar upgrade.

TDHL purchased the block of buildings for 1.7 million dollars in September 2018 and sold the properties for 360,000 dollars in July 2022. This figure was later confirmed in October 2022.

“TDHL purchasing these sites means that they have not been available for others to purchase and redevelop, as they potentially would have been if they had stayed in private ownership,” Gilkison said. He explained that the buildings were neglected and effectively off the open market. “Why did they buy them in the first place, and what was the reason for seeking to amalgamate the titles? Did they have a plan? If so, what was it, and why did it fall over?”

The buildings were abandoned and poorly maintained, Gilkison said, and he believes the company should have done more to redevelop the buildings and deliver something substantial to the town’s CBD.

After announcing the buyback of the properties, TDHL’s General Manager, Frazer Munro, said that protections in the contract ensured the site could be easily transferred back.

“Whilst TDHL are disappointed that Thompson has decided not to proceed, we remain committed to the long-term revitalisation of the CBD/heritage hub,” Munro shared. “We understand that the sites will play an important part in the revitalisation of the CBD, and we remain confident that in time a suitable development opportunity will arise, especially as the upgrade of the theatre gets underway.”

TDHL note that they do not regret entering this contract and believe in its vision of contributing to a vibrant and sustainable city centre.




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