Stopgap conference centre plan for Queenstown

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A stopgap conference centre at Queenstown’s Events Centre is being proposed until a permanent one is built in the CBD. 

Retired local businessman Lew Gdanitz, who is behind the proposal, says his stopgap centre – seating up to 2000 delegates – could also be used for indoor sport, concerts and exhibitions. 

Depending on options it would cost between $3.8 million and $5m to build and could be erected in just four or five months, he says. 

Construction materials would be steelwork and refrigeration panels. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council formed a working party a year ago to investigate building a conference centre, after lobbying by the business community. 

However, that permanent centre could still be four or five years away, Gdanitz says. 

In the meantime, the resort can’t continue driving major conference business away, he argues. 

“Large conferences bring high-yield quality tourism into Queenstown.” 

Gdanitz says he’s pushing for an Events Centre site – on the southwestern corner between the golf course, outdoor courts and carpark extension – because of the nearby infrastructure. 

The building would use existing parking and services and could be managed by Events Centre staff, he says.
“It’s not ideal out there but it’s not ideal not having one.” 

Gdanitz also believes the temporary centre could give the council a gauge on the demand for conference business.
The working party’s recent feasibility study estimates a 750-capacity centre will cost $43.7m to build. 

“I’m no expert but I believe they should be working on a facility for 1000 to 1200.” 

Gdanitz is in no doubt the council should fund a temporary conference centre because of its economic benefit. 

“If you borrow $5m, it’s going to cost less than $300,000 a year to service that.” 

Gdanitz says the council could recoup about half the cost by dismantling it and selling it off once a permanent conference centre is built. 

But if it’s not torn down it could act as a back-up to the new centre, he suggests. 

It could also be a valuable extension to the Events Centre, which is stretched for court space – and would be large enough to host netball tests, plus act as a civil defence centre given it’s close to the airport and hospital, he 
says. 

Gdanitz says he’s grateful to free input he’s received from Queenstowners architectural designer Murray Bennett and planner John Edmonds – plus Dunedin architectural designer Gary Todd. 

Last week, Mountain Scene revealed Bennett and Todd were behind a vision for an 1100-person permanent 
conference centre proposed for Queenstown’s Gorge Road carpark site.