Three brothers who own a collection of heritage buildings
in Dunedin's warehouse precinct say the area risks being
''destroyed'' by plans for a waterfront hotel.
The warning from Richard, Stephen and Michael Macknight came
as a resource consent hearing resumed yesterday to decide
whether a $100 million hotel can be built on industrial land
at 41 Wharf St.
The Macknight brothers were among those to argue the hotel
would tower over its surroundings, destroying views -
including from some of their buildings - and the character of
the warehouse precinct.
Supporters, including Chamber of Commerce chief executive
John Christie, maintained the city needed the hotel, but
opponents even echoed Winston Churchill's words while
fighting against the project yesterday. Rose Cuninghame, of
Dunedin, said the hotel would exploit harbour views, but ''at
the cost of a gross intrusion on the same view for everyone
''As Churchill might have put it, never would so much have
been robbed from so many by so few.''
Richard Macknight told the committee he and his brothers
would not have invested in the warehouse precinct if the
proposed hotel had already been there.
Their holdings included Consultancy House, Queens Gardens
Court - home of the Duke of Wellington bar - and the Bing
Harris, NMA and Donald Reid buildings, all of which had been,
or were in the process of being, refurbished.
The Donald Reid building, opposite the hotel site, was
undergoing a $4 million refurbishment for use as the Dunedin
headquarters of ADInstruments and its 50 staff.
Mr Macknight said the precinct's ''unique character''
attracted architects, IT professionals and new businesses,
but that character - as well as some sun and views - could
''easily be destroyed by the hotel''.
''We wouldn't have invested in these buildings if that hotel
To illustrate his point, Mr Macknight placed a small
photograph of one of the Donald Reid buildings on the floor,
propped up against a table leg, and then stood over it. That,
he said, was an example of the dominance the new hotel would
''It will absolutely dominate the buildings around it,'' he
The Macknight brothers' concerns were backed by former Union
Steam Ship Company building owner Dave Hanan, who labelled
the hotel's design ''architectural arrogance of the grandest
The ''monster building'' would tower over his own, blocking
views, eroding building values and destroying the privacy of
decks used by his building's tenants.
Allowing the hotel to be built would be ''rued for
generations'', he warned.
Art and architectural historian Peter Entwisle said the hotel
would put Dunedin's status as the best-preserved colonial
city in New Zealand at risk.
He believed, in some cases, it was appropriate to ''bring
down the shutters'' and cease the construction of new
buildings in heritage cities, leaving them ''frozen in
time'', as had happened in Venice.
Heritage advocate Elizabeth Kerr also argued against allowing
the ''ubiquitous'' fashion of high-rise towers to take root
''It is not welcome in Dunedin. That's our point of
difference to celebrate - no towers.''
Other opponents included Dunedin businessman Josh Thomas,
formerly of Auckland, who said he moved to Dunedin for a
better quality of life away from ''insanely mediocre''
high-rise building designs.
''I really love Dunedin and I beg you not to let this happen.
I think it will be a serious mistake.''
However, Mr Christie said the majority of chamber members
supported the hotel, which would mean investment, jobs and
more tourists for Dunedin, including Chinese visitors who
would not come unless five-star accommodation was available.
''The city is missing out on a number of tourists that don't
come here because we don't have that quality of operation.''
Chamber chairman Peter McIntyre - in a personal submission -
agreed, saying the hotel was a ''once in a lifetime''
economic opportunity for the city that could create a
''snowball effect'' for the redevelopment of surrounding
Larnach Castle Ltd director Norcombe Barker - also the
chairman of Dunedin Host - said the hotel was not a perfect
project, but he supported it because of the ''huge''
positives it would bring for the city's economy and
''If Dunedin waits for the perfect investment, I think we
will be waiting here for quite a while.''
Joanne Galer said the hotel was separated from nearby
heritage buildings, would make good use of a vacant
industrial ''eyesore'' and help give the harbourside and its
dilapidated heritage buildings a ''second chance at life''.
''Without economic growth, these buildings will go. This is
called demolition by neglect.''
Yesterday's session marked the resumption of the hearing that
adjourned after four days of submissions from December 3-6.
It would continue today and tomorrow but was then likely to
be adjourned until February, pending further information,
chairman Cr Colin Weatherall indicated.