Wellington Scoop

Does the Hilton need our money?

Are Wellington ratepayers to be asked to help finance a Hilton Hotel near Te Papa? There seem to be contradictory expectations.

Developer Mark Dunajtschik is quoted in the DomPost as expecting money from the council:

“We still need a lot of decisions from a number of people. Probably the very first one is the council.” The Wellington City Council would provide an as yet unspecified amount for the project but only if the business case, which is still being developed, stacked up and is approved by the full council next month.

However the city council’s news release on the same day states something different in its “background information”:

No capital investment or construction risk for the city

And then there’s a quote from Mayor Wade-Brown in the DomPost report, seemingly at odds with her council’s news release:

Financial input from the council would most likely be justified. “The economic benefits to Wellington go far wider than directly to the convention centre and the hotel. It’s good for Wellington business as a whole, and good for employment.”

More specific information came from her colleague Councillor Coughlan. She told BusinessDesk that the convention centre was likely to require a three-year council subsidy.

Which leaves us waiting for official clarification from the council about just what it’s expecting to do. Another question: why was the council announcement so coy about the location of the proposed Hilton Hotel and its “vast” convention centre. The location, and the hotel chain, were both named in the DomPost report. But the council mentioned neither of them.

It did however give an assurance that the location was “non-controversial” and that “resource consent is not required to be notified.” These were the words of the mayor, but she later qualified her statement by tweeting “it is unlikely to be a notified resource consent, as long as it is within District Plan rules.”

All of which suggests that while it’s evident the hotel and convention centre “to put us ahead of Christchurch and Auckland” are being fast-tracked, they are still very much a work in progress.