Waterfront hotel: How big would it be?

ODT graphic
ODT graphic

The company bidding to build a 28-storey hotel on Dunedin's waterfront may have to launch a helicopter or a helium balloon to demonstrate how tall it would be.

Betterways Advisory Ltd has applied for resource consent to build the 96m-high apartment and hotel tower on vacant industrial land at 41 Wharf St, prompting a public hearing that adjourned this week without a decision.

The height of the proposed hotel has emerged as a major issue for many submitters, some of whom have also criticised montage images presented to the hearing that purported to show what the hotel would look like from city vantage points.

Yesterday, Cr Colin Weatherall, chairman of the hearings committee weighing the evidence, confirmed a request to physically demonstrate the hotel's height at the site was being considered.

It would be up to Betterways to find a way of fulfilling the request and pay for it, he said.

However, one option was to hover a helicopter above the site, with a steel bar hanging below to indicate the height, he suggested.

Another option could be to launch a helium balloon from the site on a calm day, tethered to the ground by a 96m-long wire rope, he said.

It was ''not unusual'' to make such a request as part of the council's consent process, Cr Weatherall said, but there were differences this time.

''This [hotel] is a different height than most,'' he said.

Whatever method was chosen, committee members would need to be satisfied the height being demonstrated was accurate.

The method would also need to remain in place for several hours, allowing time to view the results from various locations, Cr Weatherall said.

''How they do that is up to them,'' he said.

Betterways director Steve Rodgers, asked yesterday how he might comply with such a request, said he was still ''working it out''.

''I'm honestly not sure.''

A balloon could be blown off course, making exact heights difficult to achieve, while a hovering helicopter would not give a true impression of the building's bulk or impact on views, he said.

The consent hearing adjourned on Wednesday after seven days of arguments for and against the hotel, but is scheduled to resume on February 18.

Cr Weatherall said Betterways would be notified of any requirement to demonstrate the hotel's height, and any other additional information deemed necessary, prior to the resumption.

Helicopters Otago owner Graeme Gale said when contacted it could cost between $1800 and $3000 per hour to hover over the site, depending on the helicopter used.



Proposed hotel

Tourists travel to a place to take in the unique sights and experiences. Spending on attracting more people with touristy experiences is good. Luxury hotels are not unique experiences, and people will not fly all the way to Dunedin to stay in one when they have enough of those in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau.
Has any reader of this newspaper ever decided to go to the Gold Coast or China or India or the US because you heard they had flash hotels? You think other cultures think this way? When tourists go somewhere, they have decided on what experience they want to get and what they want to see, and accommodation is then decided upon.
The new hotel will not attract new visitors, it will only redistribute them and take some of the existing business, not create new income. Existing accommodation facilities in Dunedin are only occasionally full. If a 28-storey structure comes up, it will fill at the expense of many mom-and-pop motels operated by existing Dunedin ratepayers.
Profits from these existing businesses tend to be ploughed into the city. The new building will put a good lot of these people out of business. And profits will flow out of Dunedin to wherever the owner(s) live (no one doubts this), resulting in less business ratepayer income for DCC. [Abridged]

The Bolter

English term for a runaway bride, from 'Love in a Cold Climate'. One look at the honeymoon suite and she's off.

'Helium balloon'

A helium balloon will not hack it in a noreaster, since, instead of winging its way aloft, as intended, it will likely extend its tether to its maximum, and find refuge on the roof of a building in Crawford St, or some such place. I hope the person who made this suggestion, has 'upped' his act, by the time that 'decision-time' rolls around.

Build it, and they will bolt!

If, under the present circumstances, the DCC capitulates to this edifice as a 'quick-fix' for all Dunedin's ills, real and imagined, then we might as well build a Council Chamber in Shanghai, or Beijing, and dictate the way our city is run from there. In fact, if it goes ahead, refuge in Shanghai or Beijing might be necessary for those councillors approving or encouraging it.

When a team of 'developers' and their sycophants are able to dictate to the city of Dunedin, what is good for them, be totally unbending as to location, height and other details and unilaterally lay down the law as to what is good for us, we might as well abandon democracy altogether, as the farce it has been allowed to become in Dunedin and cede control of the city to mainland China. For, what will this building bring in its wake, but further opportunist would-be developers, especially if we have already shown ourselves to be a 'push-over'?[abridged]

The fallacy of the silent majority

"As usual however, those against feel more compelled to express their opinion. That does not mean there are more against it than for it, it simply means they are more vocal," writes pizzazz without suggesting a basis for her opinion.  Perhaps they are too lazy to write in support.  Perhaps they aren't so much for it as oblivious to the issue entirely and therefore haven't an opinion. The simplest and most probable explanation for the outpouring of objections to the proposed monster hotel is that a very large number - including a proportionate sector of those who have not written to the ODT online or print edition - are genuinely against it for the many reasons they have expressed in their clearly expressed communications.  

I'll second that...

There is a comment below that says "Get over it...just build it" Completely agree. There are plenty of people who think this would be fabulous for Dunedin.

As usual however, those against feel more compelled to express their opinion. That does not mean there are more against it than for it, it simply means they are more vocal.  


I'm pleased the newspaper has made a simulation the applicant's experts dared not show.

Hundreds of submitters are convinced this 'architecture' is unresponsive and contrary to the human scale that the majority of Dunedin buildings adhere to in terms of height and bulk. The effect of the tower (briefly) conceptualised for resource consent is bleak, unwelcoming, undistinguished, and largely undifferentiated for relief of its monolithic affront to a city gracious in its embrace of landform and dwelling place.

Some residents haven't been here long; others have tenure through extended family ranging to five, six and seven generations, and much longer. Not in all this time has 'pioneering' by the monied been this unattractive, forced, dislocated and insincere.

When the hotel 'vision' was launched last May, I described the building as a slab. Days later I saw it as a headstone. Our city is the product of high and low fortunes, purpose and zeal, hoped-for egalitarianism, busy layers of eclectic colonial architecture with twentieth century overlays, strong work ethics, social agency, charitable deeds and volunteerism, and a collective belief in self-governance.

We don't need a dead 'buy in' to register why we are different, multiple and special, right down to the bone.


The architectural equivalent of Marge Simpson sitting down in front of you at a 3D screening of The Hobbit.

'Outside the box'

Unfortunately those building it have no ties to Dunedin. They will not have to look at it all day so couldn't care less. This monstrosity is not an architectural statement, it is a revenue driven project.  The structure's design and everything about it ensures the greatest possible return on investment for our mystery developers.  It's all about the money, yet they act as if they are doing us a favour.  I too like the twist style structure - it has landmark potential - but if they did a real architectural building the ROI wouldn't be high enough, so we get the cookie cutter glass box to maximise profit for some dudes in China we'll never see or know. 

No idea of the size

Wow, i had no idea how big this 'thing' was proposed to be.

My initial thoughts were that the city does need more accommodation and whilst resistance and questioning these kinds of development is good, maybe it would be good if it went ahead. Having seen what a blight it would be on the skyline i am now not so sure. The view from Unity Park is one of those great things about Dunedin and to have an eyesore that size would not only affect that but clearly be the dominant structure from all aspects.

Dunedin has fantastic heritage buildings and the first option should be to redevelop these where possible.

Stadium noose put aside

So the stadium 'noose' around Dunedin's neck is being put aside for a 'guillotine' that will be this hotel. Amazing how it's suddenly looking like there's money available for this project.
If the people who endorse this project think that a monstrous hotel is the answer to Dunedin's problems, then it would seem that there's been a waste of education dollars on their part.[Abridged]

Why not think outside the square?

I'm all for the hotel - but why not make it something quite different to that boxy one planned? Love this new twist-design concept 

Left Bank

Now, if it could be a design like NY's Chrysler Building...

Tethering the balloon

Use three or more lines to tether the balloon to the ground so it will stay in position more readily.

The Tour Montparnasse precedent

Something I haven't seen crop up yet, but is pretty relevant.  

Tour Montparnasse is a 210m office tower that has sat like a knife in the heart of Paris since 1972.

This witticism indicates how much they like the tower: "It is sometimes said that the view from the top is the most beautiful in Paris, because it is the only place from which the tower itself cannot be seen."

Towers were exiled to the La Defence district as a direct reaction to this building.

A lot more thought needs to go into the design/placement of the Dunedin Hotel.

Get over it

Just build it...!!!


The planners need to be asked

The planners need to be asked and should be required to answer the question publicly: Why does the building have to be so irredeemably ugly?

Vancouver of the South

The building of a dominant structure such as this goes against everything the original creators of Dunedin envisaged.  Dunedin is the Edinburgh of the South, not the Vancouver of the South.  Can you imagine something like this being built in Edinburgh, or Valletta, or Venice? This bulding would be like a knife in the heart of the very soul of this unique city.  For warts and all, Dunedin is truly unique.  People are unlikely to come here in their droves because of a five-star hotel. Alice Springs has a five star hotel, but it does not dominate the skyline.  Can you imagine if Alice Springs had a 28-story hotel instead of Uluru - Ayer's Rock? Would it attract the same number of tourists?

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