Convention Centre Plan for Capital City Unveiled

20 May 2014

A purpose-built convention centre and attached five-star hotel in the central city is looking likely for Wellington, following a briefing by Mayor Celia Wade-Brown to Wellington City Councillors yesterday (Monday).

“Councillors were updated on progress for this exciting idea – at next month’s meeting we will provide a comprehensive plan,” says Ms Wade-Brown.

“This conference centre and hotel will put us ahead of Christchurch and Auckland developments, with no need for a casino.

“Negotiations and planning is ongoing, in the meantime what we can say is that the plan is for a purpose-built conference venue with a partnership between the Council, a consortium of local and national interests, and an international hotel chain.

“The non-controversial location means resource consent is not required to be notified.

“The conference centre proposal is one of the 8 Big Ideas that make up the City Council’s Growth Agenda and it will be the first to be progressed to a formal proposal stage.”

Economic Growth and Arts Committee Chair Councillor Jo Coughlan says Wellington is the country’s second largest conference destination behind Auckland.  “We make up 14 per cent of the country’s total convention market, earning more than $100 million for the city each year.

“There is considerable investment in new conference facilities around the country and within four years, there is expected to be capacity for 6500 more conference delegates in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

“The plan being developed will help secure and grow this important market, and also support the city’s other growth initiatives,” says Cr Coughlan. “We have been in discussions with a consortium made up of Mr Mark Dunajtschik - a successful Wellington developer and investor - and an international hotel chain.

“This state of the art proposal involves an established and successful Wellington developer and is strategically located at a site that will take advantage of – and showcase – some of the best that our city has to offer.

”The next step is the presentation of a completed business case to the full Council in late June. “Ultimately the business case will have to stack up and demonstrate a good investment for our ratepayers,” says Cr Coughlan.

Some details and background information

  • Brand new state of the art purpose-built conference facility with capacity for 2500 delegates
  • The new venue would be the third largest facility in NZ
  • Can be completed before the other convention capacity becomes available
  • The venue would be branded, marketed and managed by an international hotel company
  • Will attract new and larger conventions that normally would not consider Wellington
  • 165 bed five-star hotel operating in the city
    • globally experienced and fast growing chain
    • 4000 hotels worldwide with a reputation for quality destinations
    • does not operate casinos
    • a strong Asia-Pacific position
    • seeking a strategic investment in Wellington
    • committed to sustainability
  • The developer behind the proposal is Mark Dunajtschik
    • an established and successful local developer with a demonstrated commitment to Wellington
    • will be managing investment and the relationship with the hotel chain
  • Strategically located to showcase the city
  • Good range of supporting accommodation and facilities nearby
  • No capital investment or construction risk for the city
  • Will drive secondary investment
  • Stands alone as a significant development opportunity and will complement Wellington’s other growth strategies and emerging markets
  • Will support the continued development of Wellington’s restaurant sector for a professional clientele.

Input from the tourism sector

The discussions Wellington has underway are supported by the tourism sector.  A five-star development of such a significant facility will provide a boost to the tourism industry meeting its targets that have been highlighted in the recently released Tourism 2025 statement.

Building a demand driver will support growth in air connectivity; a five-star facility is driven by creating an outstanding experience for visitors to show off the best of Wellington. By attracting convention delegates Wellington is targeting high value visitors who will ensure that our city is delivering jobs in a highly productive sector.

Working with regular partners such as Air New Zealand, the hotel sector and the city’s wider business and education community has identified this as a great opportunity for Wellington.