Victorian precinct plans progress

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A Harbour St building is to be the home of a collaborative project between Tourism Waitaki and the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust that aims to boost tourism in the Victorian precinct.
Nearly a year ago, the Government announced it would invest $290,000 in the development of a heritage centre and trail in the precinct, one of five areas nationwide the Government was investing in to grow tourism.
At the time of the announcement, the project was set to include an IT-rich themed centre and live streetscape with demonstrations, a penny-farthing experience and interactive Victorian-era activities that would give visitors a taste of Oamaru.
Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust chairman Mark Smith confirmed recently it would be based at the original Neill Bros grain store at 12 Harbour St, after lease negotiations with tenant Stewart Catto, of Catto Wool.
He said Catto Wool had already “moved a lot of stuff” to its other premises in Tyne St.
In February, Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill told the Oamaru Mail the collaborative project was about “establishing a ticketed tourism product” at the precinct that would act as a driver and “hopefully keep tourists down there for longer”.
The tentative opening date was October 2017.
The trust was also close to finding a tenant for the former Birdlands Wine Company building in Harbour St, which has been vacant for several months, Dr Smith said.
“We are looking at a number of proposals from interested parties. There are several organisations who are keen to tenant that space and we want to very carefully think hard about the possibilities and what’s best for us and the immediate future.”
Also, several maintenance projects are under way at the precinct, including the roof being replaced on the building next to the Grainstore Gallery.
Meanwhile, the Harbour St Collective development, in the former Lazy Cat building, continues to take shape.
In June, Bruce and Angela Blackie and daughter Anna King took over the lease of the prominent Harbour St space, which is owned by the trust.
Plans include a cafe in the building’s front section that will include a wine bar if an application for a liquor licence is granted.
The family has bought the Real Good Fudge Co, which operated out of the building, and renamed it the Victorian Fudge Co.
Design Federation will also be part of the collective, in the rear of the building, while Ben and Richard Summerell, of Reclaimed and Renamed, will run their restored furniture business in the middle section of the building, which will also house a children’s play area.
Mrs King said four artists had been confirmed to occupy the upstairs space and another was likely to come on board.
She said the business was on track for a September 10 opening.
“We’re actually doing pretty well; it’s just the little fiddly jobs left. The cafe side will be fine but the children’s play area will be a bit of a challenge, so that might open a little bit later.”