CBD key player walks away from development

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    The city block ear-marked for a $160m retail precinct in Invercargill's CBD. Photo: Petrina Wright

    THE Invercargill City Council (ICC) is in damage control after a key investor walked away from a mult-imillion-dollar project to redevelop an inner-city block.

    HWCP Management director and businessman Geoff Thomson has resigned from the company.

    Mr ThomsonĀ  agreed to leave his funding contribution made to date with the project, being a significant portion of the $25m he had committed to the project.

    Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt declined to comment on Mr Thomson’s resignation.

    HWCP is a joint venture between ICC’s Invercargill City Property Limited and HWR Property Ltd, part of the H W Richardson Group Ltd, set up to build a covered complex for retail, entertainment and hospitality encompassing the block bordered by Dee, Tay, Kelvin and Esk Sts.

    The Richardson Group, Mr Thomson and ICC had each agreed to invest up to $25 million towards the $180 million price tag for stage one of the development.

    Other funding committed included a loan of $19.5 million from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund and $20 million from Community Trust South. The ICC had also contributed in excess of $5 million between May 2017 and late 2018 through its Holdco investment enterprise, Invercargill City Properties.

    This week, the council held two emergency meetings in two consecutive days to discuss the development, one on Tuesday and one yesterday after the Southland Express went to print.

    Sir Tim confirmed the purpose of the meeting held yesterday was to discuss the development.

    Resource consent for the project had been approved, but HWCP was still waiting on building consent before demolition could commence.

    Last month, HWCP director Scott O’Donnell told the Otago Daily Timeshe had hoped to have the demolition of the first phase of the development under way by now, but a discrepancy in the documentation and queries from ICC staff were delaying the process.

    The Southland Express contacted Mr O’Donnell and Mr Thomson for comment but they had not returned calls at the time of going to print.

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