Major makeover for Waimate Hotel

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Refurbished . . . The Waimate Hotel, as seen at the end of last year, has been undergoing a major makeover. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

The old Waimate Hotel in Queen St will take on a new lease of life in a couple of months’ time.

Workers have been busy at the hotel since the end of last year refurbishing the building which will return as a cafe, bar and restaurant.

“It’s going to be a significant place to go and dine. It will be really impressive,” Waimate Property Holdings manager Les Buckingham said.

Local businessman Gary Rooney’s company Waimate Property Holdings owns the building and has further development planned in Waimate’s main street.

“It’s basically a new building inside with the outside plasterwork sealed,” Mr Buckingham said.

“We’ve taken out the old wooden floors and replaced them with concrete. It’s been a slow process.

“A whole lot of steelwork has gone inside so it’s brought up to ‘quake code. There’s new plumbing and electrical work.”

A courtyard and outside dining area will be established and there will be an upstairs function area and meeting room.

The hotel’s distinctive old veranda has been taken out, since it was not up to the earthquake code and a new one will be built.

A licensee has been found.

“We’re working through things with them and they want to make an announcement themselves.”

A new name could be adopted for the building but this has yet to be finalised.

Local contractors have been employed on the project.

Meanwhile, Mr Buckingham said Waimate Property Holdings’ other plans for the main street would be on hold until work on the old hotel had finished.

The company has already built a new $2million medical centre in the main street and intends to demolish 57-63 Queen St, the Savoy building; 73 Queen St, the Country Kitchen building and 68 Queen St, the Walker McGeorge building.

The Courier last year a progressive demolition was planned and the buildings would be replaced “in a style sympathetic to the character of the main street”.

At the end of last year Mr Rooney also bought the run down Quinn’s Arcade between High and Grigson Sts, a short distance from the Waimate Hotel.