Developer CJ Efstratiou needs an archaeologist before he can start building on his central Wanganui site but finding one is proving difficult.
During the past two months, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust has been unable to find another archaeologist for him.
The trust's central region manager, Ann Neill, said it was normally the developer's job to find and hire an archaeologist, but the trust stepped in to help Mr Efstratiou after Wanganui company Archaeology North refused to continue working for him.
"In this case, we are doing our best to try and facilitate something."
Archaeology North pursued a long court battle with the developer and, in April, finally got payment for archaeological work done in early 2010.
Michael Taylor, of Archaeology North, then severed his contract with the developer.
"If he won't talk to me and he won't pay me then I can't do the job. I told the Historic Places Trust my position was not tenable," he said at the time.
Contractors pulled down several Victoria Ave buildings for Mr Efstratiou in June, adding to his large development site.
Under the terms of his resource consent from Wanganui District Council, Mr Efstratiou must be putting up replacement buildings on the Victoria Ave frontage by February 2013, and he must finish the development by March 2015.
He could not proceed with either project without hiring an archaeologist, council principal planner Jonathan Barrett said. "You don't know what's there until you actually start to uncover things. Before he starts turning it over, there needs to be an archaeological presence."
There were a lot of complex conditions to the resource consent the council approved in March, and it was a variation on an earlier consent.
It enables the developer to meet the requirements of his prospective tenant for the large building on the St Hill St side of the site, Farmers. One of the conditions was entry from Victoria Ave, and there were also changes to the divisions between the smaller retail spaces to be built on Maria Place and Victoria Ave.
The plans were available to the public, Mr Barrett said, but they were light on detail and there were no artist's impressions of the finished development.