Hilton ‘offer’ to run proposed Frankton convention centre

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A developer proposing a privately-funded Frankton convention centre reckons he has funding shored up and an operator, according to an update from Queenstown’s council boss.

Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Adam Feeley told today’s full council meeting he’d had an email update last night from developer Alastair Porter (pictured), a key backer of Remarkables Park.

“The main points of what he advised is funding for the project will be secured by Remarkables Park. I understand from that his funding hasn’t been secured, as he is using future tense,” Feeley told councillors who were considering adopting a master-plan and guiding principles for a downtown convention centre project.

“As far as he advises, Hilton hotel have offered to operate the facility. That’s news to me as last time I spoke to him he had approached Hilton and they expressed an interest in running it,” Feeley added.

Feeley also said Porter’s email noted his Frankton option would be a 900-person centre which would be open for operation in the fourth quarter of 2015, assuming consent was granted early next year and building started in October, 2014.

Feeley says expert advice to the council – which is leading development of its own convention centre proposal downtown at the Lakeview Holiday Park site – is any promotion of a centre to attract business requires a three-year lead-in.

“Given funding hasn’t been secured, I don’t envisage any active promotion of [a Frankton] convention centre so on that basis it would be cutting it pretty fine,” Feeley told councillors.

The master-plan put forward by Populous and Fearon Hay – members of a heavyweight consortium selected by council in February as preferred developers of a proposed centre – has three main elements. They are a convention centre, two commercial recreational operations and a mix of commercial and residential areas at the back of the old Lakeview campground land.

It would all be linked by a central market square.

Ngai Tahu Tourism is in early-stage talks with the council regarding the $25 million hot pools complex proposal – but council isn’t ready to reveal the party behind the second operation.

In a statement on Monday by council says while council hasn’t formally resolved to develop a centre it’s investigating the multiple issues to be taken into account when it makes the decision next year.

Such issues include the best mix of uses, the site’s zoning, a need for additional infrastructure and ownership of the land and facilities.

A report on finance options and rates impacts will be ready in March, the statement says.