Council aims to buy Mapua Wharf building

HELEN MURDOCH
Last updated 13:00 05/12/2013

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The Tasman District Council is negotiating to buy Mapua Wharf's Golden Bear building to add to its commercial portfolio.

The council already owns the land under the building which is tenanted by the brew bar and restaurant, Hamish's Ice Cream Parlour and Cafe and the Coolchange Gallery Co-operative.

The building is owned by Don and Carol Yelverton of Mapua Holdings. The controlling sub-lease for the structure is held by Golden Bear owner Jim Matranga.

The council's property services manager, Jim Frater, said the council had the right, under its ground lease with Mapua Holdings to buy the building at any time.

He said negotiations were at a delicate stage and he hoped to have resolved them before Christmas. "All I can say is that the council is trying to act in the best interests of all the tenants."

He said if the council was successful in buying the building the current tenants would remain. If the bid failed the risk could be that Hamish's and Coolchange may lose their sites.

The council wanted to buy the building because it already owned the land, he said.

"We believe it is in the best interests of the community to own the buildings on council land in the Mapua Wharf area so any future development is done by the council and the community - not the owners of the buildings."

Moutere councillor Brian Ensor, who chairs the Mapua Wharf Advisory Group, said he did not know the finer details of the lease agreements between the council and its tenants but knew the situation was causing on-going concern to Hamish's owner Adele Calteaux and the members of the Coolchange Gallery Co-operative.

"We'd like to think they can stay on the wharf," Mr Ensor said.

The council would also like to see a building erected on the former Mapua Aquarium site, which was owned by the council, either by the council or another party, which could provide possible future tenancy opportunities for Mrs Calteaux and the gallery members, along with other retailers.

Mr Ensor said the council was keen on owning the Golden Bear building as it would give Mr Matranga a secure lease and the council a little more influence at the wharf.

"The council and the wharf advisory group want to see a good variety of businesses down there and we see the Golden Bear building as a key site."

Asked if the building's purchase could be considered core council business, Mr Ensor said the council's new commercial sub-committee saw the wharf as a valuable commercial asset.

Mr Matranga said he had no guarantee from the council they would buy the building.

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"They do not give out a lot of information. Everything they say is vague - I await the outcome."

Mrs Calteaux said she was still waiting to hear if the council would honour its assurances of the security of her lease and place on the wharf and to let the public know she would do everything in her power to keep Hamish's on the wharf.

- The Nelson Mail

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