Wellington to forge ahead with Convention and Exhibition Centre

13 December 2018

Wellington City Councillors have voted to proceed with a Five Greenstar Convention and Exhibition Centre (CEC) which will give a major boost to the local economy, create hundreds of jobs and provide stimulus for further regeneration in that part of the city.

Artist impression of the proposed convention centre

Artist impression from Wakefield Street

The City Strategy Committee passed the recommendation unanimously today.

The three-storey Cable Street building, with around 18,000-square metres of floor space, will comfortably be able to host 1500 people for conventions. It includes a 1651sq m exhibition area that will attract international exhibitions too big for nearby Te Papa, and provide an always-changing visitor attraction.

It has a net cost of $154.3 million.

It is estimated the CEC will boost Wellington’s GDP by $44.8 million a year and employ people in 550 jobs once it is operating. Construction, which will employ 864, can start in August 2019 and should take three years.

“I am delighted we are able to start on this project,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

“This has been more than five years in the making. We have an ambitious social programme to improve things for all Wellingtonians, and we need to ensure the Wellington economy is growing so we can help fund it.

“The CEC will be designed, engineered and built using local talent and to high sustainability standards.

“We are ready to go, and the boost it will give to the city will be tremendous. It will spark a raft of much-needed development in the area.

“There are a number of private developments ready to go, and we hope the CEC green light will provide confidence for them to proceed quickly and help rejuvenate that part of town.

“The area is now largely carparks and major roads, but soon there will be far better links between Courtenay Place and the waterfront – laneways will spring up, and there will be another vibrant quarter for downtown.

“We’ve budgeted for the CEC in the Long-Term Plan and local businesses are eager to see it happen.”

An amendment by committee chair Councillor Iona Pannett means the Council will aim in principle to make the Centre a Five Greenstar building.

Councillor Simon Marsh, who holds the Economic Development Portfolio, says the Council has made a strategic decision to approve the Centre as it will ensure the city can remain competitive when Auckland and Christchurch are also building convention centres.

“As well as creating economic benefit and jobs, we are not only protecting but also enhancing the existing convention industry in Wellington and the jobs it creates,” he says.

“It is anticipated that more than 100 new events will be attracted to the Wellington market each year, bringing almost 150,000 additional delegate days and the related economic benefits.

“Generally conventions are held during the week, so out-of-town attendees will be boosting spending in cafes, bars and restaurants during the quieter periods.

“The exhibition centre will provide lots of activity at weekends and through the summer periods to ensure there is year-round activity in the building.

“This is a great step for Wellington and I look forward to the benefits it will bring.”