Fresh pints at Bel Aire

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 07:47 21/01/2013
Darrin Fearnley
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

TAKING SHAPE: Darrin Fearnley outside the 1940's art deco building he restored years after tranpsorting it from Collingwood St to Tahunanui Drive

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A 1940s art-deco building in Tahunanui, soon to open as new craft beer bar the Bel Aire Tavern, has had a long history in Nelson at locations all over the city.

Nelson chef Darrin Fearnley said his family trust bought the house, which had been in dire disrepair in its original Collingwood St location, from Price's Pharmacy owner Stuart Hebberd about eight years ago.

He had moved it to the Brook Valley, storing it there for three years before shifting it to Tahunanui.

He understood it was built for a millionaire in 1948, and had a former life as an office for a car yard and then a "party house".

The house had been slated for demolition when it was in Collingwood St, but Mr Fearnley had decided he wanted to buy it.

"I just love the retro thing, to me it was something Nelson should have kept because it was a nice looking building."

A house removal company had said it was too fragile to be moved.

"You never say to me something can't be done, because I'll do it. I moved it.

"The decision was whether to walk away from it or put my head down and do it."

It was moved to the Brook Valley in two pieces, with the main piece weighing 30 tonnes.

He then moved the 220-square-metre house to Tahunanui, and had then intended to use it as an old-fashioned milk bar.

"I was going to make it a little Happy Days style milk bar cafe for the kids and older people from the 1960s and 70s."

The whole house had been totally restored, with new plaster and a new roof to make it look "like something out of Beverly Hills".

Inside the house looked "like a millionaire's palace", with retro fittings including the original staircases.

Everyone in the area knew the building, he said.

"I have put a landmark in Tahunanui, I have put something down in Tahunanui that everyone loves."

The process was a family effort, and he wanted to thank his parents John and Wendy, as well as his daughters Amy, 28, Nicole, 18 and Kristy, 16.

The building is being leased, and will soon be opened as the Bel Aire Tavern, though no date has yet been set.

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