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Original use...Cantec House was originally built as offices for government departments and agencies. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

The tallest building in Timaru could be developed into a hotel.

Gaire Thompson, the Nelson owner of the nine-storey Cantec House building in George St, said he was investigating the possibility.

“The fact that it’s prominent and has good outlook would be quite good and the demand could be good as well. There can be a lot happening in Timaru at times.”

He thought a possible hotel could be pitched at the tourist market for overnight stays which would have spinoffs for cafes and bars and other businesses within the central city.

“We could get tourist buses stopping and staying in Timaru instead of Christchurch.”

Mr Thompson said there was some sensitivity over the proposal since tenants were in the building. All of the ground floor was tenanted and and he did not want to upset tenants. He had also not converted a building into a hotel before.

An authority who owned a chain of hotels would examine the building to establish if it would be possible to convert to a hotel.

“We’ll look at the floor plans to see how it would go. I’ve been told we’d need 80 car parks. I think we’ve got 40-odd there now and we would have to look at putting more in.”

The building did not require earthquake strengthening.

“It was originally a government building and has been built pretty well.”

Mr Thompson owns the Timaru railway station as well as Warehouse Stationery and the former Butterfields building in Stafford St.

Late last year, the Timaru District Council’s company, Timaru District Holdings, bought five buildings almost opposite the old Butterfields store for $1.7million which were to be combined and on-sold, if possible, to a developer as a 3700sq m site.

Mr Thompson said he could be interested.

“We’d have to think what we’d do with it.

“At the moment we’ve got enough on our plate.

“They [Timaru District Holdings Ltd] did talk to me about bulk retailing but it’s not suitable there because of the sloping ground.

“It would be good to see the theatre [the former Majestic] retained.

“At the moment we wouldn’t say no. It just depends what’s on our plate.”

Mr Thompson said it would also require there not being “too much over-the-top expense”.

“In places like Timaru the rentals are not at the top level and you’ve got to do something that is economic.

“This is where earthquake strengthening has to be realistic. If it is too expensive buildings will come down and Timaru has a good streetscape.”

Possibility…Nelson property developer Gaire Thompson says he might consider the block of buildings Timaru District Holdings wants developed. PHOTO: SUPPLIED