With minimal retail and office vacancy in Queenstown and as tourism numbers rebound, the iconic Chester Building on one of the town’s most highly visible corner sites offers unrivalled opportunity for forward-thinking investors or owner-occupiers.
Located on an 822sqm site at 19 Shotover Street at its intersection with Camp Street, the three-storey building with its signature geometric architectural elements, was designed by Arrowtown-based architect John Blair.
Blair has designed more than 950 buildings in the broader Wakatipu area and elsewhere around New Zealand, including the shingled Clock Tower building across the road from the Chester Building, and the O'Connell's Pavilion in 1986.
The Chester Building has a net lettable area of around 1,500sqm with a range of existing tenants on varying lease terms.
Its high-profile ground floor corner tenancy is currently vacant, while other street-side tenancies are leased to long-established retail occupiers, and first and second-floor office and boardroom space – some with deck areas – occupied by professional firms.
Comprising 13 unit titles spread across the three floors, the property gives a buyer scope to later sell off individual units and a comprehensive lease schedule is available to qualified parties upon signing of a confidentiality agreement.
It is understood the top floor of the Chester Building used to be apartments and accommodation use could potentially be reinstated – perhaps even with a boutique hotel offering – with retail activating the building at street level and upper levels enjoying a mix of city and mountain views.
The property is being marketed for sale by negotiation through Chris Campbell of Bayleys Queenstown on behalf of its local owners, tourism company Skyline Properties Limited.
Zoned Commercial 8A, the property was purchased by Skyline in 2001, and forms part of its comprehensive Queenstown commercial property portfolio including Eichardts, the recently relaunched O'Connell’s building, Skyline Arcade, Town Pier, and the Ava and Rees Buildings.
Campbell says the Chester Building has a potential rent roll of $1 million-plus and the vacant ground floor corner tenancy would be ideal for a proactive national or international brand wishing to consolidate a strong presence in the town, with direct access to New Zealand's biggest tourist market.
“Data from the Bayleys Insights team reveals advertised vacancy of just 1.1 percent in Queenstown’s retail sector and 3.9 percent for office stock so occupiers are squeezed for choice – particularly in the central shopping area,” he says.
“I’d suggest that virtually every visitor to Queenstown either walks or drives past this prominent corner site, and given it is diagonally opposite the Queenstown isite visitor information centre, and directly across the road from popular tourist booking agencies, there’s significant traction to be gained by a strong brand.”
Tourism numbers are bouncing back in the ski resort town, and while not yet back to pre-pandemic numbers, as among others, the Asian market is slow to recalibrate, Queenstown Airport expects passenger movements to increase from 2.4 million this year to 3.2 million in 2032.
Campbell says there’s a real international vibe in the CBD with hospitality venues humming again and clear evidence that visitors are spending.
“With the town centre’s rejuvenation projects complete providing a highly pedestrianised environment, shopping in Queenstown has a truly cosmopolitan feel because global brands have cherry-picked destinations where international tourism dollars and high-discretionary domestic incomes are circulating.
“Flagship fashion brands RM Williams, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger have recently opened new stores in the town, and T Galleria by DFS has launched to great fanfare in the revitalised O’Connell’s building.
“I’d encourage owner-occupiers and investors to make enquiries about the Chester Building as the vendors are prepared to offer flexible sale terms and are open to innovative proposals.”