Masterton's most historic community-owned building is to be strengthened and restored, and tenanted by a new player in the Wairarapa hospitality scene.
More than 100 years after it was built, the Lands Trust Masterton-owned building on the corner of Dixon and Church streets is to get a new lease of life as a boutique Lone Star restaurant and bar.
Built by the trust in 1908, the building is significant in Masterton's history as the former Seddon Memorial Technical School - the first technical/ secondary school of its type in New Zealand.
Badly weakened in the 1942 Wairarapa earthquake, the brick building will be strengthened to 100 per cent of the building code and leased to Lone Star franchisees for Wairarapa, Tom and Michelle Roseingrave.
The Lone Star theme will be based around the building's historic features including a grand central staircase, original timber floors, decorative pressed metal ceilings and match-lined walls.
An old ancillary building at the back will be demolished and replaced with a new kitchen and service facilities adjoining the main building. An outdoor deck with a louvre roof and heating will be added on the southern side alongside a landscaped garden bar adjacent to the main indoor bar area.
Lands Trust Masterton chairman John Bunny said when structural assessments of all trust buildings were completed in 2011, the former Seddon building had been identified as severely earthquake prone.
"We made the decision then to retain it, provided a suitable commercial use could be found and we are delighted to have found a tenant to work with on its restoration.
"It's exciting that people are now going to able to experience the historic features of the building as they were at the start of last century."
The overall cost is expected to be $2.3 million with Lands Trust covering the strengthening and restoration and Lone Star the fit- out. The building restoration is expected to be complete by August this year, with the restaurant opening shortly after.
Lone Star operates 24 restaurants throughout New Zealand, having established the first one 25 years ago in Christchurch.
Tom and Michelle Roseingrave had been working with Lone Star on bringing the franchise to Masterton for the past 18 months.
"Our own experience told us there was an opening in the market for somewhere fun to take the kids for a meal and for the after- work crowd who wanted a casual meal and a drink."
The restaurant will seat up to 90 people and separate function rooms will cater for 60 and 25people respectively. Mr Roseingrave said the business had the potential to employ up to 30 staff.
- Wairarapa News