As Queenstowners face a downtown parking squeeze, a local tourist company is planning a mega-carpark nearby.
Skyline is proposing a 449-space carpark to service its proposed $100 million gondola complex redevelopment.
Behind the rebuilt bottom terminal, the four- or five-level building would be for gondola patrons, staff and other Ben Lomond reserve users only.
Skyline last week told the Environment Court it will apply for a resource consent once it gets sign-off from neighbour Kiwi Birdlife Park.
This week, Queenstown’s council announced it’s proposing to make it harder for people to drive into town by drastically raising parking charges and removing free all-day parking from the likes of Queenstown Gardens and One Mile carpark.
The council – trying to push a new $2 bus service which it’s partly subsidising – is discussing the controversial plan at its meeting in Wanaka today.
Asked about Skyline’s plan, councillor Alexa Forbes says “it doesn’t hurt our plans at all”.
“We do need carparks in town – we have a bunch of carparks suggested in the [town centre] masterplan, so we don’t see cars completely disappearing off our roads.
“The thrust of what we’re trying to do is make sure that people have a wide variety of [transport] options, and the most difficult, or the one that’s most expensive, is actually the private car.”
Forbes doesn’t believe the council should be subsidising carparking, but applauds Skyline’s initiative.
“Good on them, in my mind carparking should be provided by the market, and if people are going to provide carparking because they essentially think they need it to operate their business, then that’s what they need to do.”
Ironically, when Skyline unveiled its redevelopment plans, it didn’t provide for any visitor parking.
Following a public backlash, it announced in April that it would lodge consent for a carpark building for at least 207 cars, costing about $10m.
The Environment Court, however, ordered Skyline to provide 350 parks within a five-minute walk.
“That’s not such an easy thing to achieve,” Skyline chairman Mark Quickfall tells
chosen instead to go for 449 parks, to future-proof itself.
“Once we put the bottom terminal up, to ever add to the 350 would be near-impossible,” Quickfall says.
He expects the larger building will now cost more than $20m.
It won’t be free, he confirms.
“It’s a huge investment – we’ll need to charge something to get a return.”