A former Air Force hangar at Hobsonville Point will reopen as a Little Creatures craft brewery and eatery on Waitangi Day (February 6), Lion says.

A special event will be held for residents shortly before that date.

The launch date had become a topic of speculation for locals since it became obvious construction was behind track for the originally planned December date.

Lion chief executive Rory Glass says his company is spending $20m on the project, split between build costs and a 10-year lease with right-of-renewal.

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His company confirms today that it's still on track with its original plan. That is, the 1500sq m development will include a microbrewery, restaurant, all-day cafe, high-end fish and chips outlet and a family-friendly play area.

Little Creatures was launched in 2000 by brewer Phil Sexton, restaurateur Nick Trimboli and marketing man Howard Cearns.

The trio set up their first craft brewery and eatery at the site of an old crocodile farm in Fremantle, Perth before expanding to Geelong on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Lion bought their company for a reported $280 million in 2012 (the NZ-founded Lion was itself bought by Japan's Kirin a couple of years before).

Glass says Little Creatures staff will be responsible for the look and feel of the Hobsonville Point fitout.

The label is known for its American Pale Ale and Indian Pale Ale brews, but also makes a custom brew for each location. Hobsonville Point will be no different, Glass says.

Some of the product will be for local consumption, some will exported.

Make beer, not war: how the hangar looked in 1958. Photo / Hobsonville RSA.
Make beer, not war: how the hangar looked in 1958. Photo / Hobsonville RSA.

The Little Creatures hangar conversion is part of a broader development of Catalina Bay at Hobsonville Point that also includes the new Fabric cafe (reviewed here) and Siamese Doll.

A trial weekend ferry service will shortly begin from the CBD to Hobsonville Point following a vote by residents to chip in $50,000 their own funds to help get things moving. Catalina Bay businesses are putting around $100,000 into the trial.

Reaction to Little Creatures' arrival has been universally positive on a Facebook Page for Hobsonville Point locals.

However, the outfit is lucky that it's arriving before the more controversial stages of the Catalina Bay development, which will necessitate the yacht club and Westlake Boys' rowing facilities being moved, as well as the loss of car parks, or at least a shift up the hill. Alternative land will be provided further around the Point for the yacht club, gratis, but fundraising will be required for a build.