A vacant lot used as a public space in the heart of Blenheim has been snapped up by a Marlborough investor.
The former City Hotel site, on High St, has been sold to Blenheim businessman Lee Gilbert for an undisclosed price.
Mark Stevenson First National Real Estate commercial and industrial agent Geoff Dentice confirmed the site was purchased by the Gilbert Family Trust and, speaking on their behalf, said he understood there were no set plans for the site and nothing would be happening in a hurry.
“I know he has a number of ideas for it, but there is nothing anywhere near concrete yet,” he said.
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“It will be a very valuable and strategic site.”
Gilbert was co-owner of Sounds Lifestyle Investments, which owned Kaiuma Park Estate near Havelock, as well as a range of other businesses and properties around the region.
The City Hotel was deemed an earthquake-prone building and demolished in 2014.
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Landowner Rob Anderson and the Marlborough District Council agreed to turn the site into a temporary park in late 2015, with seats, benches, and wild flowers.
Anderson, of Blenheim, said he was glad to have a result after being in a “holding pattern” since the building demolition.
“I’m happy to be moving on, it’s onwards and upwards,” he said.
While Anderson would not be drawn on the final price of the sale, he said the sale was in line with the registered valuation.
The property information package created by Mark Stevenson First National Real Estate valued the 1147-square metre lot at $940,000.
The final figure would be public knowledge within a month, Dentice said.
Anderson purchased the City Hotel in 2007, but said he was hampered by the global financial crisis and necessary earthquake renovations.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I knew then what I know now I possibly wouldn’t have gone through with the original purchase,” he said.
“It should have been a really good thing for the site and Blenheim. But macro factors and global financial crises are always out of your control.”
The arrangement with the council to turn the empty site into a public space offset Anderson’s rate payments, which he estimated to save $10,000 to $12,000 annually.
“It has been much better than putting a fence around the outside and creating a no-go zone,” he said.
The business developer owned a farm and vineyard bordered by the Cloudy Bay Business Park in Riverlands.
The sale of the City Hotel site would allow Anderson to move ahead with his next project.
He planned to lobby council to extend the business park onto his property and lease the land to sustainable businesses.
In the meantime, the sale of 17-27 High St was good progress for the town’s central business district, Anderson said.
“This is a key part of Blenheim … It will be good in years to come for something else to happen and for this site to be used in a positive way again,” he said.
“The site has been a part of Blenheim’s history for as long as the town has been here.”