Wellington gives Convention Centre a big tick

29 October 2014

Wellingtonians are right behind plans for the convention centre and five-star Hilton Hotel proposed for a vacant site opposite Te Papa.

City Councillors agreed to the Convention Centre in principle in June and Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the public consultation process was overwhelmingly in favour.

“The overwhelming majority of submissions, including the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce, the Retailers Association and the Property Council support the Convention Centre and recognised the benefits to the City and the wider economy,” says Mayor Wade-Brown. 

“It’s a great endorsement of the City’s plan for economic growth and development, and shows people support the Council’s approach of investing in the City’s economic development.

“The biggest risk to our Capital’s jobs and economy would be to do nothing. We are a council of action,” she says.

The Council’s Economic Growth Committee Chair, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says the convention centre is a great investment in Wellington that will keep Wellington at the forefront of a competitive national conference market.

“This is the first of the Council’s ‘8 Big Ideas’ to get to this stage of planning and is a catalyst project for the City Council’s Growth Agenda,” says Cr Coughlan.

“Major contributors to the Capital’s economy such as Wellington International Airport, Weltech and Victoria University, are in favour of the proposal and a big part of the support was because of the economic benefits. 

“Doing nothing could cost the city up to 17 per cent of our current market share when newer facilities are built around the country, up to $25 million in lost business and about 170 jobs.

“A new purpose-built centre would grow the overall business in Wellington by about 10 per cent – about 60 new events delivering more than 60,000 delegate days each year. The consultation process also shows some people need more detail about the financing of the proposal which is what the Council will focus on over the next week.”

City Councillors will be briefed on the details of the proposal on Monday and the proposal will go before the full Council meeting on Wednesday 5 November for a decision.

Deputy Mayor and Governance, Finance and Planning Committee Chair Justin Lester says the proposal to go to councillors next week will outline the direct and indirect benefits.

“This facility will stimulate growth through the two years of construction and once operational, it will add significantly to the income of the city and region,” says Cr Lester.

“The convention Centre will be a state of the art purpose built and professionally run international facility linked to the very strong Hilton brand and its international network,” says Cr Lester.

“Most importantly, it will create more than 200 jobs, bring visitors into the region, and see growth across whole range of associated areas like hospitality, tourism and the service sector.”

A report of the Consultation on the convention centre proposal is available here: http://wellington.govt.nz/have-your-say/public-inputs/consultations/closed/convention-centre

An overview of the Convention Centre

  • The developer is Mark Dunajtschik - an established and successful local developer with a demonstrated commitment to Wellington
  • New 165-bed 5-star hotel and purpose-built conference facility with full-format conference hosting capacity of up to 1200 delegates and banqueting capacity for up to 1450 people. In theatre style seating, the facility can seat up to 2500 in the largest space.
  • The new venue would be the third-largest convention facility in the country and would be completed before the other convention capacity becomes available in other parts of the country
  • The venue would be branded as the Wellington Convention Centre managed by Hilton which would give Wellington international exposure - and confidence that new events will be attracted to the Capital.
  • Wellington is currently the country’s second largest convention destination behind Auckland, making up 15 per cent of the country’s total convention market and earning more than $140 million for the city each year.
  • As well as protecting the existing market and jobs, that growth would add $30 million in new expenditure and directly create more than 200 new jobs.
  • It would cost the City Council at least $55 million to build a convention centre itself (excluding any land costs) and over $1 million more a year to run – the city would carry all the cost and associated borrowings, and all the risk.