PGF money sought for hotel

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The Oamaru Licensing Trust is eyeing its slice of the Government’s $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund.

It recently submitted a 100-page expression of interest for a grant to help restore the facade of the Brydone Hotel to its former glory and to create more employment opportunities in the North Otago town.

An expression of interest for the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) allows for potential proposals to be tested for eligibility – and for feedback before a final application.

The Oamaru Licensing Trust (OLT) has owned the category 2 heritage-listed Brydone Hotel since 1961, the same year the trust was founded. At present, it employs 80 staff at the 49-room hotel, bar, restaurant and conference facility.

OLT general manager Cathy Maaka would not disclose the exact figure the trust had asked for, other than to say it was “a substantial amount”.

The facade restoration project included reinstating the parapets that were removed from the building in 1964 and tidying up the Oamaru stone panels of the 1881 building.

“We’d like to reinstate the parapets and the original look of the building, which is more in keeping with the Victorian look of the town,” Ms Maaka said.

It is not known why the parapets were taken down and replaced with a concrete panel, but in the trust’s research for its PGF proposal it was discovered that the parapets were sold for a shilling each.

“There is an elderly man in Oamaru who still has some in his garden,” Ms Maaka said.

They would be used as moulds for new parapets in the restoration project.

The 100-page PGF proposal had been compiled by OLT marketing manager Eden Bradfield over the past three months.

It also included a bid for a grant to fund projects to create more employment opportunities in Oamaru.

“We’re absolutely thrilled by the support of the community – even others who have applied [for the PGF] have supported our application – that’s really awesome,” Ms Maaka said.

As tourism had been growing in Oamaru, so too had occupancy of the 49-room hotel.

“I think Oamaru now has an incredible framework for guests and visitors that we didn’t have 10 years ago,” Mr Bradfield said.

Some areas of the hotel had been stripped of their character over the years, but many of the original features had been retained, including the original fireplace, which is still lit every day in winter.

“It retains a lot of its original character, especially with the staircase, with the ceilings, with all the stonework on the exterior,” Mr Bradfield said.

Guests were attracted by the character of the Brydone Hotel and the restoration project would further enhance that attraction, he said.

“In Oamaru, we think of heritage as a narrative and when you stay somewhere that actually has existed since 1881, you’re engaging in that narrative in a really incredible way,” he said.

The Brydone Hotel, formerly known as the Queen’s Hotel, was designed by Thomas Forrester and John Lemon. It is one of their many exuberant designs that reflect the prosperity of Oamaru in the early 1880s.