Site 'deserves better' than hotel design

Dunedin deserves better than the design of a 28-storey, $100 million hotel being suggested for the city's waterfront, a heritage building owner says.

The rebuke came from Ted Daniels, owner of two Dunedin heritage buildings, on the seventh day of a resource consent hearing that will decide the fate of the hotel proposed by Betterways Advisory Ltd.

Mr Daniels, the last member of the public to address the hearing, yesterday urged the developers to ''think outside the square''.

He was not against the hotel at 41 Wharf St, but opposed its design, believing the prominent waterfront location demanded better.

The hotel's size and location would make it a landmark building in the city. He presented the committee images showing landmark buildings around the world, then criticised the hotel's glass-box design as ''from the 1950s or 1970s''.

''If we build the wrong building, people will be saying for the next 100 years, 'how the hell did it get built?'

''I think Dunedin deserves a better building as a landmark building,'' he said.

There would always be opposition, as shown by the initial outcry over the Sydney Opera House, but Dunedin's waterfront hotel design ''I don't think has anything to go for it''.

''It's just a shame,'' he said.

Mr Daniels was among many submitters to criticise the hotel's design during the public hearing, which spanned four days from December 3 and continued this week.

However, a council planner's report - recommending consent be declined - has also suggested the design be referred to an expert panel for approval, should the committee decide to grant consent anyway.

The hearing adjourned at the end of yesterday's session and will resume in February to consider more information and closing arguments from the applicant, Betterways Advisory Ltd, and council staff.

Yesterday, the committee also heard technical evidence confirming the hotel would make the surrounding area windier in some places, and more sheltered in others, while traffic issues could be overcome.

Opus International Consultants aerodynamics research leader Neil Jamieson, of Wellington, appearing for Betterways, said wind striking a building could accelerate around corners or downwards.

That meant more wind for pedestrians in some areas, but a building's mass could also provide shelter in other areas.

Dunedin's new hotel would be most susceptible to winds from the northeast or east, or from the southwest or west, he said.

A southwest wind could turn the southwest corner of the hotel into a ''very windy area'', with effects from either end of the hotel extending to the Customhouse Restaurant and Gen-i buildings and beyond.

The hotel's bulk would provide ''significant shelter'' to the hotel entrance and nearby pedestrian areas on the eastern side, but there was likely to be an overall deterioration in wind conditions for pedestrians.

Cyclists using the nearby cycleway could also expect ''a few surprises'' from changing wind speeds as a result of the hotel's presence, ''but [the wind] is not likely to blow them off their bikes'', he said.

Dunedin's district plan did not set rules for wind from new buildings, but Mr Jamieson suggested a wind tunnel study could determine the magnitude of the likely changes.

Betterways could also be instructed to offer glass barriers or other solutions to neighbours if consent was granted, he said.

Yesterday's session also heard detailed discussion of possible traffic issues in the area by Betterways' consultant transport engineer, Andrew Carr, and the council's consultant transportation planner, Ian Clark.

The pair prepared a joint statement after disagreeing earlier in the hearing about traffic problems at the Birch St-Wharf St intersection and the hotel's proposed vehicle exit to Wharf St.

Yesterday, after fresh traffic modelling, they confirmed vehicles performing U-turns at the Birch St-Wharf St intersection - including guests overshooting the hotel from the north - could cause vehicle queues to form, but only for short periods.

Mr Clark said there was room to make the area a two-lane road, allowing traffic to turn with disruption, but Mr Carr believed the situation should be monitored and action taken only if needed.

Vehicle queues could also form at the hotel's exit, but only for brief periods at peak times, and the exit would ''generally operate satisfactorily''.

There was also enough room for vehicles approaching from the south to slow and enter the hotel, while following vehicles passed to their right, Mr Carr said.

Mr Clark said the ''major'' challenge remained ensuring guests could safely cross the busy Wharf St to the waterfront, as modelling showed a crossing with signals in the area would not work.

However, Mr Carr said there was already a crossing just south of the Thomas Burns St roundabout, and more could follow, as the area developed.

Committee chairman Cr Colin Weatherall adjourned the hearing yesterday afternoon for a series of site visits, but said it was due to reconvene on February 18-20 unless another date was required.

In the meantime, committee members would consider ''where to from here'', including what further information was needed for a ''quality decision'', he said.


All a matter of opinion

I've heard people against the hotel say they are not anti progress. I've heard people compare Dunedin directly to Venice and Miami. I've heard people say Dunedin is some sort of heritage mecca. I've heard people say that somehow there won't be any jobs at the hotel. 

Now people are asking for an injuction on a decision that hasn't even been made yet! One thing is for sure - the panel is better informed on the subject than most commenters.

It's all very good not to want the hotel built but you should have a good reason. Not just because you think it looks ugly (no matter the design there will be people who don't like it), and not because it will somehow ruin Dunedin's charm, character, spirituality or other such unmeasurable quality.

Jaws revisited?

This whole saga reminds me of the plot of the movie 'Jaws'; people being crunched left, rightand centre in inshore waters, and the local authority reluctant to close beaches because of the effect that action might have on the tourist dollar.
It strikes me that being a resident of Dunedin, and a contributor to its coffers via rates, earns the right only to be relegated to the bottom of the food chain in matters pertaining to the future of our city. Surely, the well-being of those living here should take precedence over what are imagined to be the wants of transient, short-term, and likely parsimonious visitors.
What gets on my wick is not that a hotel has been proposed, but that no-one in the city is supposed to have the right to have a say on this building, which is at odds with the things we value for our city. That, and the total intransigence of the developers with their 'it's this site, or nothing, and you can like it, or lump it' mentality. 
This thing is being promoted as a fait accompli, which leads me to be suspicious that we didn't learn anything at all from the stadium debacle.[Abridged]

If approved keep fighting..

If this is approved there should be a full blown investigation into the panel involved with this decision, as well as legal injunctions filed to nullify the decision.  Is this panel really going to go against the biggest submission uprising in Dunedin history?  There is no excuse for approval of this lunacy.

It's what we want, not what others want

GW Scam says "I just hope the Council uses its common sense and doesn't turn down one of the biggest opportunities any city in NZ has ever been presented with and become the laughing stock of not just NZ, but the world - more than it already is". Well I hope that's not the only reason someone would consider allowing such an out of place monstrosity in 'the best preserved Victorian city in the Commonwealth'. In fact it would be fair to say much of the world doesn't consider us, let alone know us or, laugh in our faces.

There are two main reasons for not allowing this hotel. It is too unoriginal and it is too big. And beware those who promise gold and jobs and lots of extra visitors if you let them trash your place. And if it doesn't remain viable? If the developers go broke part way? I'm not afraid of change but I wonder, if it was so easy to fill a 5 star hotel, why is the old Chief Post Office still empty. Would be a beautiful classic hotel if developed. It does make me wonder though. Are the 28 storey developers just being clever? Knowing there would be opposition to almost any hotel at the head of the harbour, do all they really want is to build an 18 story one. By trying for a ludicrous 28, they might accept a 'compromise' and get what they wanted all along. Something they may never have got if they had originally tried for 18. Smells fishy to me. Might just be the location though

Hot desperation

Otago Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Dunedin are so desperate for the hotel they've forgotten to provide facts and figures to back their claims the hotel will spark 'growth and economic development'. They're naive, perhaps well intended, but hot air is cheap.

Lucky for us, national media have simultaneously published on the lack of Chinese visitor spend via fleeting touchdown at Aotearoa. 

A pin is needed to the hotel plan, burst it - save people from themselves and those out for a quick buck at others' expense.

The city council should stop being cavalier, stop holding the community to ransom, look the Trojan gift horse in the mouth. The hotel of dated design, at the low end of five star (see concept plans), if poised to stand empty beside a railway marshalling yard doesn't inspire business confidence in the southern region.

Meanwhile, in recent days a deputation of two elected council representatives went to Minister Bill English seeking a handout to reduce stadium debt. He rightly said No. What about some hard honest toil and production to see the city right, councillors?



"Monorail" is a great Simpson's episode that encapsulates and represents how outsiders manipulate local councils and wreck existing economies.

This way of thinking is way past it's due date. If we really want to make a change in our local economy, we have to do it locally. I don't want no Monorail in Dunedin.

Very odd indeed

I find it odd that the Chinese hotel investors are sticking to their guns on the location, height and general structure of this proposed hotel. Why aren't they listening to our concerns? They don't live here, we do.
This is our town and Chinese investors can't ride roughshod over us just because we don't have any money . If they can't respect the heritage and aesthetics of Dunedin, they should not be building anything here.
We need investors that show a bit of care about the city they wish to invest in and respect the character and history of Dunedin. After all, we are much more that just a five-star hotel, right?

Monstrous hotel

One of the charms of Dunedin is the way the hills form an amphitheatre for the old port area, the harbour and the distant peninsula. A 28-storey glass box in the middle of this would be an act of vandalism.

Why is a 28-storey hotel needed anyway? It has been asserted that rich Chinese won't visit Dunedin unless there is a five-star hotel, but 28 storeys full of them? Rich Chinese don't visit cities just to stay in five-star hotels. They visit cities that have casinos. Australia has 17 casinos for them to choose from, in Canberra, all the state capitals and other cities. A glass-tower hotel incorporating a casino is to be built on the edge of Sydney Harbour.

All round the Australian coast glib entrepreneurs are proposing developments, accompanied by a naive chorus of "jobs, progress, world class". Experience shows, however, that developments do not always provide the expected benefits for either the investors or the public. Dunedin, beware.

No, they're not kidding

GW-Scam writes NZ would be the laughing stock of not just NZ, but the world if this project is rejected?

Honestly, this proposed structure is an abomination. It clashes with Dunedin's charm and character. I just hope the council uses its common sense to turn down this monstrosity.



Blind faith

In this case a "laughing stock" would be a heritage city with a giant out of place Miami-style hotel that overtakes every vantage point of the city.  Your loyalty to this project is unusual,  and you have no idea who the mystery developers are.  That is a lot of blind faith in some suits with a flashy and smug presentation of 'what's best for Dunedin'. 
No one in their right mind could think this hotel is a good fit for Dunedin.  If someone wants to put a big hotel there that is fine by me, just take the Miami out of the equation and we'll get somewhere.  How about a bit of class vs. cookie cutter boring high rise?  The current design is nothing more than an attempt to maximize ROI, heritage city be damned.[Abridged]

Are you kidding?

You have to be kidding, the site deserves better than a $100 million dollar, arguably the best hotel in New Zealand? How many years has it sat empty, like now, with nothing more than weeds and gorse growing on it?

Let me guess, the idea is we don't allow the Hotel, and build a factory there instead? Just like the two signage businesses that have been allowed to build right on the waterfront itself in Portsmouth Drive, without a whisper of protest.

How is it I and many others can see how ridiculous it is to be happy putting industrial businesses in waterfront locations (like what is planned for the "heritage" warehouse district), but then fight to stop the sort of businesses that should be there - hotels and alike, where others think that is fine?

I just hope the Council uses its common sense and doesn't turn down one of the biggest opportunities any city in NZ has ever been presented with and become the laughing stock of not just NZ, but the world - more than it already is.


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