A newly built, fully furnished childcare centre in central Napier that hasn't had a child in it for nearly a year is set open soon, one of the building's owner says.
The building, on the corner of Chaucer Rd and Carlyle St, used to be the site of the well-known Hawke's Bay watering hole The Royal Tavern before it was sold in April 2016 to the Auckland-based development company.
Mark Finlay, the former Evolve Education chief executive and founded the Lollipops Educare Group, said that he could confirm the centre would be "opening soon".
Finlay played top-level rugby for Manawatū and was a one-time All Black, but never managed to play a test.
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The company that owns the site, LEP2 Limited, is owned by Finlay and Russell Thompson. They own the land and building.
They have leased it out to a separate company, which is setting up the childcare centre.
It is still a mystery when the centre will open and why it has remained empty all this time.
Finlay said that was a matter for the company that is leasing the property, which he said he was not willing to disclose.
Hawke's Bay Today understands the business leasing the building still requires an ECE Licence (Early Childhood Education), which has yet to be filed for the site.
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The licence makes sure a certain facility is up to standard and is a safe and suitable building for early childhood education.
The mystery delay is the latest saga at the site which has a fascinating history.
The Royal Tavern, which was one of Napier's oldest pubs, moved to the current site more than 150 years ago from the Ahuriri spit, where it was often flooded.
It was a well-known spot. The at-times troubled pub was put up for sale in 2010 but was passed in at auction after bidding failed to reach reserve.
It closed in 2014 because of rising costs and poor patronage.
LEP2 Limited bought the site in 2016 for $305,000.
The site is worth about $2 million, according to QV's latest stats.