Green light for Wellington Convention Centre

6 November 2014

The Wellington Convention Centre, identified as a key driver for the Capital’s economy, jobs and international attractiveness, is a major step closer to reality.

The Wellington City Council voted 13/2 yesterday (Wednesday) to approve the deal to bring a new purpose-built five-star convention centre to the Capital. The Council will lease the facility from developer Mark Dunajtschik. It will be operated by the Hilton Corporation.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the decision was a huge win for the Capital’s economic development, providing revenue and jobs for at least the next 20 years under the terms of the lease.

“I’m very pleased the Council has approved this deal by a wide margin,” she said. “This decision makes it clear Wellington City Council is active in the economic development of the Capital.

“The Council is enabling a project that will protect and generate around $21 million a year net GDP benefit to the Capital. Construction will begin within months and the Wellington Convention Centre will open its doors in 2017. We’ll be well ahead of proposed developments in Auckland and Christchurch,” she said.

“The New Zealand convention market is also expanding, supported by Tourism NZ. A smart new building opposite Te Papa will be a huge improvement to the current gap in the urban fabric.”

The state-of-the-art 4400 square-metre facility would be able to host up to 1200 conference delegates and have a banqueting capacity for up to 1450 people. In theatre style seating, the facility can seat 2000 in the largest space.

The overall project will be financed by local developer Mark Dunajtschik, who is building it along with the 165-room hotel on the site in Cable Street. The Council will lease the convention centre at an average net cost to the city of about $2.1 million a year over the lease term.

The Council’s Economic Growth Committee Chair, Councillor Jo Coughlan, says this investment will inject cash, jobs and marketing opportunities into the Capital’s economy, as well as protect the benefits received from our current share of country’s convention market.

“The numbers confirm how important this deal is to Wellington. Currently our convention market generates $146 million per year and supports over 1000 full time jobs.

“This new facility will grow jobs by over 200 full time jobs and add $28.6 million in new expenditure, and will drive growth across associated areas like hospitality, tourism and the service sector,” she said.

Deputy Mayor and Governance, Finance and Planning Committee Chair Justin Lester said the Wellington Convention Centre will provide great spin-offs for the Capital, both internationally and on the home front.

“Having a strong, established and trusted brand in the Hilton managing the Wellington Convention Centre is a superb marketing asset in international markets.

“It’s exciting that our tertiary institutions have voiced their strong support for this development. In particular, there are great opportunities for hospitality and tourism sector students to have hands-on experience in one of the world’s most notable hotel brands,” he said.

Public consultation process was in favour with the overwhelming majority of submissions, including the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce, the Retailers Association and the Property Council voicing support for the Convention Centre.

Read a detailed report of the Consultation on the City Council’s proposal.