Wellington Scoop

Suddenly: a waterfront site for the Hilton, but new plans not yet developed

News from WCC
A new portside site has been proposed for the convention centre and hotel led by Hilton Hotels, developer Mark Dunajtschik and Wellington City Council. It is now proposed the facility be built on the Interisland Wharf adjacent to Wellington Railway Station. The site is owned by CentrePort.

Mr Dunajtschik says he and Hilton Hotels have chosen to pursue the new site as they believe it is a superior proposition. For a variety of reasons the Cable Street site opposite Te Papa is no longer considered viable. “This is a proposal that will be great for the city and it’ll bring even more people and vitality to the waterfront.”

Hilton Vice President, Development and Asset Management, Robert Scullin says: ”Hilton Worldwide has a long standing interest in furthering our footprint in New Zealand. We believe strongly in the potential of Wellington as a meetings and events destination, and we would be happy to be involved in the hotel and convention centre in this location that showcases the best of the city.”

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says she supports the proposed shift. “It is a fantastic spot for the hotel and convention centre, especially, in terms of the visitor experience. The idea deserves to be investigated further.”

She says Council officers will present a report on the new proposal to Councillors at the earliest opportunity in the New Year. “Given this is a significant change of plan I’ll be seeking Councillors’ agreement before we can formally enter a revised commercial agreement with the developer and Hilton.”

And the City Council’s Economic Growth Committee Chair, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says she believes the new proposal would provide a hotel and convention centre that would be “compelling” in terms of attracting business in the highly-competitive international conference market. “The location would give it a major and positive point of difference.”

Wellington City Council Chief Executive Kevin Lavery says the proposed Interisland Wharf ‘package’ is much the same as it was for the Cable Street site – a five-star hotel of some 160 rooms with a purpose-built conference facility with full-format conference hosting capacity of up to 1200 delegates and banqueting capacity for up to 1450 people.

“Mr Dunajtschik assures me the commercial nature of the proposed development is very similar to the agreement approved by Councillors in principle in July this year – he would fund the construction of the facility, and the City Council would pay an annual lease for the convention centre, which would be managed by Hilton.

“The City Council would not be subject to costs higher than already negotiated and agreed with Mr Dunajtschik and Hilton.”

The size, shape and nature of the proposed new site means the developer’s architects and engineers are redesigning the facility – and that work is at an early stage.

If the new arrangements are approved by City Councillors, it is intended that resource consent would be sought later in 2015.

If the consent application is successful and not appealed then construction could start in 2016 and the hotel and convention centre opened by the end of 2017 – only a matter of months later than the original completion date.

Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Fran Wilde says the prospect of the hotel and convention centre on the waterfront is exciting for Wellington and was very welcome by the regional council.

“This seems like an excellent opportunity for Wellington, but of course the Wellington Regional Council is also conscious of its role as the consenting agency and its regulatory responsibilities.”

CentrePort Chief Executive Blair O’Keeffe says the company had been reviewing the future use of the wharf when discussions started. “The possibility of a hotel and convention centre integrated with maritime activity is an exciting prospect for the company and city.”