Council Announces Further Convention Centre Progress
Date: Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Subject: COUNCIL ANNOUNCES FURTHER CONVENTION CENTRE PROGRESS
The development of a world-class convention centre in one of the most exciting settings in Australasia took a major step forward today with the selection of a consortium to take the project to the next stage, Queenstown Lakes District Council Mayor, Vanessa van Uden announced today.
“Given the huge economic potential for the District from this project, I am happy to say the public process attracted some impressive proposals with one particularly outstanding bid selected to enter into negotiations with the Council,” Mayor van Uden said.
“I am delighted to announce that the Council has accepted the Evaluation Panel’s recommendation to enter into negotiations with a preferred consortium led by investors Ngai Tahu Property Limited and Morrison & Co,” she said.
Adding weight to the proposal was a wider project team which includes convention centre architects, Populous; project management firm, RCP; Queenstown-based construction company Naylor Love, and award winning New Zealand architects Fearon Hay.
Subsequent to making its submission, the consortium has now chosen SKYCITY Entertainment Group as its preferred operator.
The next step will involve giving shape to the proposal in order to undertake community consultation through the QLDC Annual Plan process (April-June).
Mayor van Uden said further work and consultation needed to happen before the project could be considered a reality but agreed the proposal had incredible promise.
“With commercially astute investors; architects who have had involvement with everything from Wembley and Eden Park to the new $1B Darling Harbour Convention Centre; and local planners and contractors; this pretty much amounts to the ‘dream team’ for Queenstown,” Mayor van Uden said.
She said the proposal would not only benefit the community and the local economy, but also support the wider national strategy of positioning New Zealand as a whole in the highly lucrative Convention Centre market.
“We have been grateful for the Government’s support to date in developing project and evaluating the proposals, and we feel sure that they will continue to see the potential in extending the jewel in New Zealand’s tourism crown to include the business tourism potential offered by Queenstown.”
Nonetheless, Mayor van Uden stressed that there were still a number of issues which had to be resolved before the Council could formally commit to the project. Central to this was the need to bring the community and, in particular the business community, into the loop.
“The community will want to understand what this means for them, and in particular issues such as site location, funding and governance structures.
Our preferred site at this stage is to use the Lakeview site, which has long been earmarked for development. The site offers world-class lake and mountain views, but is minutes from Queenstown’s heart,” she said.
From a practical perspective, it also offers cost-effective development on a level and large site that can unlock additional value for the Council as landowner, and offer further commercial development.
Mayor van Uden said that the funding arrangements would be a key factor in the negotiations, but that the preferred party had already indicated a level of funding commitment which significantly exceeded other proposals.
“While there is work to be done on this issue, we believe that we can establish an operating model for the convention centre which will be financially neutral to ratepayers. Any contribution from Council will be capped and fully disclosed. That means no surprises for ratepayers.”
The anticipated model envisages a project structure to develop the facility and a separate structure for the leasing and operating of the centre.
“It is not the intention that Council would be involved in either the ownership or operation of a Convention Centre, which is clearly not core Council business.”
Mayor van Uden said that the benefit to the community and the country needed to be seen in the short and long term, and therefore, in parallel to the negotiations, the Council would be commissioning an economic impact assessment by independent experts.
“The benefits in the first instance will be increased jobs during the construction and operation phases, and in the longer term we expect far wider potential spin-offs for tourism as a whole to the District and New Zealand. The message from business is clear - provided we do it well, the proposed convention centre is regarded as a winner."
Mayor van Uden reiterated that some critical stages, including public consultation, still lay ahead for the project.
“We are negotiating with astute business people, and none of us will proceed with the investment in a convention centre unless a viable case existed and the community has signalled support for the proposal. However, the quality of the proposal received to date gives us confidence that if the financial viability exists, then we have the best possible partners to unlock that potential,” Mayor van Uden said.
She extended her thanks to the non-Council persons on the Convention Centre Panel: Simon Moore QC, Peter Neven, Jan Tonkin and Roger Wigglesworth; and the members of the original working party: Steve Wilde, Sir Eion Edgar, Penny Clarke, Miles Wilson, Kylie Brittain/Graeme Budd.
-- Morrison &
Co Populous RCP Fearon Hay Naylor Love Southern Planning
Ngai Tahu Property Ltd
Morrison & Co
Southern Planning Group