Casino ‘silver bullet’ solution for Queenstown convention centre

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A SkyCity casino would be the “silver bullet” solution to building Queenstown’s proposed $50 million convention centre – council boss Adam Feeley says.

At the council’s general meeting yesterday (Thursday), Feeley says it’s no secret convention centres are not huge money-makers and most businesses did not have an appetite for the risk.

The options are to involve SkyCity or have council more directly a part of the centre, he says.

“There is, if you like, a silver bullet … where the vast bulk of the capital risk, the project development risk and the ongoing operating risk would be removed from council in the event that SkyCity wish to be part of a project and have the opportunity, which would be a central government decision, to transfer its existing two gaming licences into a single gaming licence up at Lakeview [the proposed convention centre site],” Feeley says.

The other option was “in a much more tangible sense the council would be part of a convention centre,” he says.

This could be through the establishment of a council-controlled trading organisation or having an operator “incentivised financially to mitigate” the council’s risk.

Ngai Tahu Tourism has proposed a $25 million hot pools development for land next to the Lakeview site, it was announced this week.

But another proposed commercial development at Lakeview by a company whose name was blanked out in the public documents presented yesterday is being kept private for now.

Cr Cath Gilmour told yesterday’s meeting the council was obliged to at least look at affordable or community housing in connection with the Lakeview proposals.

The site presently houses about 300 tenants who live in low rent cabins “and they’re some of our most vulnerable members of the community … [and] they are also a lot of our immigrant families”.

Subsequently, a new development principle that development at Lakeview mitigates any adverse impacts on housing affordability and ensures equivalent affordable housing options are enabled was added.

Also approved yesterday were the “master plan” preferred location options for the hot pools, convention centre, central market square and development sites; and an operational structure under which the council will deal with the private sector to develop and operate the centre “tthrough a project development agreement with a revenue sharing agreement”.

Negotiation progress will be discussed in February and costs and rating implications and options in March.

– Otago Daily Times