Queenstown council jousts with rival centre backer

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A PUBLIC joust between developer Alastair Porter and Queenstown councillors over claims he’ll build a rival convention centre has left no one the wiser as to the veracity of his plans. 

A statement by Remarkables Park Ltd (RPL) co-director Porter – the night before Tuesday’s key council convention centre meeting – claimed his firm intends building a convention venue in Frankton with private equity backers. 

Mayor Vanessa van Uden invited him to front at the meeting and explain himself – so he did. 

With Queenstown Lakes District Council having already declined his formal bid back in February when it selected a preferred consortium led by Morrison & Co and Ngai Tahu Property, councillors and council boss Adam Feeley quizzed Porter on his timing.
 
Porter explained the background to his centre plans, finishing by saying RPL has “no problem competing with any convention centre, including one in the CBD”. 

Cr Leigh Overton: “Would you like to comment on the timing of your press release because it would appear the lateness of it may have been designed to cause confusion.” 

Porter: “Well, no, I have far too much respect for you, Leigh, to think it would cause confusion. You’re all very astute people who I know can respond very quickly to any turn of events.” 

Porter explained watching the America’s Cup had delayed it – and he sped up the release so it was on the table prior to the important convention centre meeting. 

Van Uden: “You’re telling us you have the funds confirmed 100 per cent to be able to build it now?” 

Porter: “We have the funds, we’re a commercial entity, we don’t suggest we’re going to do something we can’t.” 

Van Uden: “You have funds without any contribution from local government or central government? If you had
building and resource consent you could go and do it today?” 

Porter: “We have an ability to do that.” 

Cr Cath Gilmour: “Is that a commitment or an ability?” 

Porter: “Oh, it’s a commitment.” 

Gilmour: “Any preconditions?” 

Porter: “Not from a public funding point of view no.” 

Gilmour: “Council contribution?” 

Porter: “Are you offering one? 

Gilmour: “No” 

Porter: “Then regrettably we won’t have it.” 

Porter confirmed the Remarkables Park convention centre could open in 2015. 

Feeley: “You have committed private equity? 

Porter: “If we say we’re going do something we can. How we fund it between private equity and debt, if we use any debt, is our business.”