Seafront building to come down in upgrade



The Marine Parade frontage of the former Napier Cosmopolitan Club is set to come down as part of a major redevelopment of the building.

The three-storey building, built in the 1960s and operated until 1986 as the Leopard Inn, will be redeveloped to provide 3000sq m of high-quality office space along with a basement parking area.

The existing building had been modelled by Strata Group Engineers to determine where it stood in terms of meeting earthquake strength building codes.

It fell short, with reports concluding its had insufficient strength.

Rather than re-design and strengthen the building, the new owners, Wallace Developments, now intend to demolish the seafront block.

Architects were currently working on the plans and a building resource consent was set to be lodged in the near future.

The planned redevelopment was another major part of a central city revamp which Napier Inner City Marketing's manager Meg Rodel described as showing confidence in the city's future.

"It's been many years since so much activity has been under way simultaneously in Napier - there is some serious building and renovation going on."

She said the new-look building would add to other major works under way on the seaside of the CBD - joining the Hawke's Bay Museum development and the new Farmers store, which is expected to be wrapped up by mid-next year.

Wallace Development are also involved with the planned development of what will become the former Farmers site which borders Hastings and Emerson Streets.

The site is set to be subdivided into six separate tenancies - five fronting Emerson St and one on Hastings St.

Three of the planned Emerson St stores had already been leased and there was strong interest in the others planned.

Development is also set to take place on the former Paxies building, with HBS Bank confirming their intention to become the tenant.

Mrs Rodel said the determination and efforts of the iconic Masonic Hotel owners Craig Hay and Neil Barber were also adding extra shine to the city.

As well as revamping the second floor accommodation area, the pair had been busy creating a new Art Deco and luxury-inspired downstairs eatery and bar, to be called the Emporium.

They enlisted the design expertise of Tom Skyring who has developed an international reputation for restaurant design - having designed Peter Gordon's Dine in Auckland, Wellington's Bangalore Polo Club and Queenstown's famous Ballarat Trading Post.

"He's been great to work with and it's been quite a coup to have him here in Napier working on Emporium," Mr Hay said.

Rich leathers, extensive tiling, a feature bar running the length of the main dining area and separate rooms for functions and parties were features.

The Emporium is set to open its doors toward the end of the month.

Mrs Rodel said the upgrade of Hastings St and the extensive installation programme for fibre-optic and wi-fi added to what she described as the city's "growth spurt."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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