Lowdown on Queenstown convention centre sites

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Experts who’ve pored over three site options for a Queenstown conference and exhibition centre are convinced just one stacks up.

Convention centre design specialists, architects and conference organisers ex­­­amined council-owned Lakeview, Gorge Road and Stanley Street sites all in or near the Queenstown CBD.

Only the 3.5 hectare Lakeview site provides enough space to comfortably fit an international-standard centre, the experts found.

That includes space for ample outdoor exhibitions, parking and future expansion.

By contrast, the present Gorge Rd and Stanley St sites are poky and don’t have anything like the views that Lakeview does, the advice says.

Gorge Rd’s triangular shape is constraining enough but there’s also no room for parking or expansion unless part of the neighbouring Queenstown Recreation Ground’s used, analysis concludes.

The Stanley St site is even worse because a centre would have to be over three levels, the loading bay entry would be off steep Beetham St and there’d be no room for parking or expansion.

The site would also be right next to busy Stanley St.

Queenstown Lakes District council chief executive Adam Feeley says while Stanley St and Gorge Rd are close to the town centre, the experts believe Lakeview will benefit the CBD more as it enables a bigger development.

“Those [other] sites are too small – not unworkable, but too small.”

Feeley adds the experts’ view is emphatic: “Their view is…if you’re going to build one, build it at Lakeview or not at all.

“The most fundamental reason is the other two sites are just too constrained,” he says.

Lakeview land (top of Man St)

Pros

Excellent vistas

Future expansion space available

Size allows ideal layout and design – and it’s flat

Bulk of building not prominent on landscape

Cons

Steep walk in parts but within a “tolerable” 10-15 minutes of CBD and there could be covered escalator on part of Man Street

Exposed to prevailing winds

Lack of sunlight, especially in winter

Gorge Rd Carpark (downtown)

Pros 

Short walk on flat ground to CBD

Relatively flat site

Won’t be consenting problems

Cons

Subject to liquefaction in an earthquake

Limited space, and triangular-shaped site not easy

No on-site parking or room for expansion unless encroach onto Recreation Ground

More shady, especially in winter, than sites further east

Stanley St Carpark (downtown)

Pros

Close proximity to the edge of downtown

Cons

Confined nature of the site, bounded by three streets which is not ideal, and lacking space for parking or expansion

Views only from top level, and limited at that

Site not scenic and frontage to busy street

Bulk of building will be very visible from CBD and both side streets

Drop-off area off steep Beetham St

Three levels of meeting space not ideal

Source: Site analysis report by convention centre design specialists Populous, Fearon Hay Architects and conference and event organisers The Conference Company 

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