Demolition in progress, entertainment center to be built

Work has begun on a multi-purpose entertainment and hospitality training center in Tarbert St, Alexandra, although the original plans have been slightly altered.

Rory and Karen McLellan, owners of McLellan’s Plumbing and Heating for 33 years, purchased 19-21 Tarbert St in 2020 with the intention of creating “a building and a place for everyone” and providing training for students in hotel.

Demolition began on the site of what was the Alexandra Hotel and Town and Country Club, later Shooters Bar. Mr McLellan said reconstruction was due to start in two weeks.

“We are looking at opening in the new year,” he said.

Vincent Community Board Chairman Martin McPherson said the downtown development was exciting and added to a growing sense of optimism as other major projects were underway.

These include a new Countdown supermarket in Centennial Ave and Ventry St (scheduled to open later this year), a new rural fire station planned for Centennial Ave, a proposed new commercial building for Stihl intended for a site near of Pioneer Park, and the Riverside Development of Alexandra Miners Park and Village.

“Taxpayers pay $650,000 [towards Riverside Park] and i am not aware of all the details of the others but these are multimillionaires [dollar] investments. People are really excited,” Cr McPherson said.

Plans drawn up for the hub two years ago called for three bars, including a rooftop bar; three kitchens; a restaurant; take-out point; and accommodation.

Mr McLellan said the rooftop bar and accommodation have since been removed to streamline planning permissions.

He never expected to be involved in such a project, but said he and his wife loved Alexandra and felt such a complex was necessary.

“The way I see it is that Alexandra and Cromwell are some of the most beautiful places in the country, which is to say the most beautiful places in the world,” he said.

“Clyde was well received but Alexandra is really lacking for a place like this.”

The couple plans to develop the building and prepare it for operation, then seek staff and a manager to run the complex.

“Karen and I will only oversee the business.

“We understand the current challenges and have the depth within the team to manage the operation.”

Mr McLellan is also chairman of the Alexandra Riverside Park Trust, which has spent 10 years working to fund and develop Riverside Park – a waterfront project to connect the CBD to the River Clutha.

He said the Central Otago District Trust and Council are making good progress in redeveloping the area.

– Marjorie Cook and Tracie Barrett

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