A Hilton Hotel on the waterfront? Well, no. How about a campervan park?
After all the years of negotiating and battling about whether or not to have a Hilton Hotel on the waterfront, the Wellington City Council is being asked to support a different plan for the site in which the hotel is interested. Something much more basic. A temporary but expensive campervan park.
Well, at least it won’t block views of the harbour.
The out-of-the-blue idea is unveiled in a draft waterfront development plan for the current 12 months, which councilors will be asked to approve this week.
The council’s ambitions to have big new buildings on the waterfront have been put on hold because of “prevailing economic conditions which have resulted in much reduced tenant demand.” One of the consequences seems to be that the hotel developer will not be hurrying to seek resource consent , at least not within the next 12 months.
With this interruption, the council-owned waterfront company has come up with the idea of a temporary campervan park on the publically-owned land (opposite New Zealand Post headquarters on Waterloo Quay) that the council wants the hotel to occupy.
The space is now a car park, which “provides an excellent return with very little capital expenditure.” But expenditure will be necessary if the campervan park is approved. And the cost is not in the waterfront company’s budget. It wants to borrow up to $500,000 from the rates, to build “the necessary infrastructure including amenities and ablution facilities.”
This isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the arrival of the Hilton Hotel anytime in the near future. And if the Hilton arrives, the city’s $500,000 will have gone down the drain.
But regardless of the expense, the waterfront company has “progressed concept planning in conjunction with Positive Wellington Tourism and the Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand.” And it wants to move fast. It wants the campervan park to be “on stream” by summer. If of course, councilors, on behalf of ratepayers, are willing to lend up to $500,000 for the temporary facilities. (The council has already been generous – in December it gave the waterfront company a “short-term” loan of $15million.)
The company claims “abundant anecdotal and empirical evidence” in support of a campervan park in central Wellington. It doesn’t, however, provide any of this evidence. Not even one anecdote.
And it doesn’t mention the fact that campervans have been happily using the Te Papa carpark, and the temporary Waitangi Park car park, for years. Even without $500,000-worth of “amenities and ablution facilities” which would be demolished if or when the Hilton Hotel began to build.