Heritage key to $5m plan

By Christine Linnell

Initial plans for a $4-5 million redevelopment of the Railway-Royal hotel block in Greymouth imagine a revitalised area that preserves historic buildings and creates an outdoor entertainment precinct.
Dunedin businessman Ben Hanssen today released concept drawings of the project, which show renovated versions of the old hotels, a modern nightclub, cafe and an outdoor seating area with a fireplace and space for live music.
The plans turn the main frontage away from Mawhera Quay to face toward the town centre and railway station, making it more accessible to tourists and locals.
After days of speculation that the Royal and Railway hotels would be knocked down to make way for the development, Mr Hanssen confirmed that preserving both buildings was integral to the development.
He wanted to reclad the Railway Hotel to give it a historic “colonial timber” style without looking contrived.
“We’re not trying to create a theme park.”
The interior of the Royal Hotel would be completely restructured to bring the building up to 100% of current seismic standards.
“I don’t do things to 65% of code. I don’t do (bulldozing).”
A Mexican restaurant will be added to the back of the hotel, facing the outdoor seating area.
Work will be done in three stages: building the nightclub and walkway from Custom Street, recladding the Railway Hotel and building the cafe, and strengthening and revamping the Royal Hotel.
Mr Hanssen, whose development experience includes working with the Dunedin student market, said the Greymouth plans were designed to create a community asset, not to sell a lot of alcohol to young people.
His team had researched aspects such as geotechnical make-up and land contamination, and hoped to file consent applications with the Grey District Council in the next week or two.
Mayor Tony Kokshoorn was enthusiastic about the plans.
“This is a fantastic start to the development of the CBD of Greymouth.
“It will keep the wheels moving, and the fact that he wants it up and running as soon as possible is excellent.”
The project would clean up the area and encourage other businesses to invest in the town, he said.
“This is a vote of confidence in Greymouth. Outsiders are voting with their wallets, and you can’t get a better vote than that.”