Property editor of the NZ Herald

Developer wants to demolish historic Timaru hotel

An application has been made to demolish Timaru's Hydro Grand.
An application has been made to demolish Timaru's Hydro Grand.

An application has been made to demolish a prominent listed heritage Timaru building to make way for a $40 million-$42 million redevelopment.

Heritage New Zealand lists the Hydro Grand Hotel at 360 Stafford St as a category two historic place and for more than a century, the eye-catching building has stood on the rise overlooking Caroline Bay in the main street.

But that triangular-shaped building on its prominent corner site has not been used as a hotel for some years.

The proposed development for a prominent Timaru site. Photo/supplied.
The proposed development for a prominent Timaru site. Photo/supplied.

Now, Bayhill Developments led by local businessman Allan Booth has applied for resource consent for an office, apartment, retail and hotel complex.

"I live in a 102-year old house," Booth said, referring to Tighnafeile House on Wai-iti Rd.

"I do like old things, put it that way. I am certainly not doing it lightly. I considered the course I'm endeavouring to take."

However, the Hydro Grand might cost $12m to $15m to strengthen: "It would be stupid to strengthen it. We looked at that.".

His plans are about to be notified and a hearing commissioner is expected to be appointed to consider submissions.

A statement issued by Booth told more.

"Development plans include demolishing the 102-year-old Hydro Grand Hotel, which has stood derelict and unoccupied for the past 10 years and building three separate but linked buildings around a public courtyard on the 0.25ha site, overlooking Caroline Bay.

"On embarking on the project, I had a pretty open mind about all the possibilities for the site, but it soon became quite clear that any thought of retention and refurbishment of the old Hydro would be an expensive and futile exercise. At that point, I changed my focus to what would best suit the unique location and of course would work. This is the result.

"A report by Architects Salmond Reed, who advised on redevelopment options for the Hydro Grand, acknowledged that while the Hydro Grand was a notable architectural feature of the Timaru business district, the facilities of the building were 'wholly unsuited to modern use' and that 'the cost of retention of the existing building and adapting this to meet the contemporary performance standards of a modern hotel, cannot achieve a commercial return on that investment'."

Design elements of the new project had been peer reviewed by an independent urban design panel before being submitted, "and we've taken a lot of that feedback on board."
Booth acknowledged the history of the site but said the proposed six-floor office building had been designed to reflect the Hydro Grand's corner and triangular shape.

"The office building would include food and beverage tenancies at ground floor and commercial tenants on the remaining floors, while the top floor was able to be configured for either offices or apartments," Booth's statement said.

Chris English, Timaru District Council regulatory services group manager, said an application to demolish and build a new building had been received.

"The application will be processed by an external consultant and an experienced independent RMA commissioner will undertake the hearing," English said.

- NZ Herald

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