What would you like to see happen to the former Hamilton Hotel?
One of Hamilton's most substantial heritage buildings is being sold.
The sprawling former Hamilton Hotel, at the south end of Victoria St, and an extravagantly fitted out main house and small cottage in an expansive walled enclave behind it, are being sold by the Blagojevic Family Trust.
The sale includes almost 2900 square metres of space in the Victoria St building and follows extensive and costly earthquake strengthening works to elevate it from 27 per cent of the building code, to 67 per cent after completion.
About 700sqm of the hotel building is in separate ownership.
Property manager and trustee Alex Blagojevic said the trust had other projects and wanted to free up its investment in the historic building.
He declined to give price expectations and said the market would decide.
The sale has drawn the attention of deputy mayor Gordon Chesterman, who wants the city council to consider purchasing the block.
He has asked that city council property staff investigate.
He said the huge 5400 sq m site, along with it's impressive views along the Waikato River, would give the council development options.
"Unfortunately it's like so many old buildings, I'd be sorry to see it go. But the best option might be a multi-storey development," Mr Chesterman said.
However, heritage consultant Dr Ann McEwan said that with strengthening done the private sector should be willing to redevelop the hotel building.
"There seems to be a growing understanding that council might acquire heritage buildings, and on-sell them," she said. "‘In this instance though, they (the owners) have done the big headline strengthening, and it's difficult to see why a private developer wouldn't be interested in doing something with a fantastic building in the CBD.
"We're being told constantly that it's the cost of strengthening that is the liability, and especially with that river frontage, it's hard to know why the council would need to be involved in rescuing or holding the building."
She said the Hamilton Hotel's loss from the main street, particularly as an anchor corner building, would leave a gaping hole in the CBD streetscape.
"Its significance is its location and its architectural quality," she said.
The hotel is in its third iteration after the first two hotels burned down, the second fire - in 1922 - claiming three lives.
The Queen and Prince Philip stayed there during their tour in 1953.
- Waikato Times