Centre gets go ahead

How it might look: The proposed Remarkables Park convention centre.

Queenstown’s first convention centre has the green light.

The local council’s issued a non-notified consent for Frankton developer Remarkables Park to build and operate a strikingly-designed centre which can easily handle 700 delegates.

Remarkables Park boss Alastair Porter hopes it will open about two years from now, and says there’s already been “an unbelievable amount of interest”.

Although the resort’s currently busy in peak seasons, tourism bosses say Queenstown’s still been missing out on large-scale conference business, particularly in the shoulder seasons.

Porter, whose company has developed the nearby Remarkables Park Town Centre, has been in a two-horse race with the council to build a Queenstown convention centre.

Council’s planned Lakeview centre, near the CBD, has stalled however.

Porter says: “I didn’t hear any candidate standing for mayor or council [last month] say they supported council building a convention centre.

“Our opinion was that it would cost well in excess of $100 million when you added in the things they didn’t add in, which include roading and parking and the true scale of the facility.”

Porter estimates stage one of his 2560 square metre centre will cost about $30m to build.

Stage two, which would increase capacity by 60 per cent, would cost another $10m, he estimates.

“We hope building construction can start in 2017, so the facility can open by late 2018.”

Stage one will be able to handle about 700 plenary delegates and 500 banqueting in adjacent areas of the main hall.

But for conferencing alone, the main hall will have capacity for up to 1400 delegates.

The facility will have separate foyer and exhibition spaces

Porter: “The appeal of the Queenstown Convention Centre will be further enhanced by two adjacent ovals which will provide outside space for exhibitions, and extended capacity under tent structures for exceptionally large events.”

Porter says he’s talking with potential operators, and “one very strong party in particular”.

He’s said in the past that he expects an operator to bring some funding to the table.

“We are planning a detailed case to present to the government to see whether they are willing to consider making a minor contribution to a potential public-private partnership.”

He was heartened when Prime Minister John Key, in an interview with “If the council couldn’t get there on its convention centre, then there’s no particular reason why a private developer couldn’t come to the government.”

Porter says he’s also talking to parties interested in building hotels on either side – “discussions include what complementary facilities and funding contribution they can provide”.

“In the meantime we are finalising a large roading contract with Fulton Hogan for this summer, which includes providing access for the convention centre.”