Jing Song. Photo by ODT.
The developer behind Dunedin's $100 million waterfront
hotel proposal says interest in another waterfront site is not
behind her decision to scrap an agreement with the Dunedin City
However, Jing Song, of Queenstown, is refusing to rule out
the move either, as rumours about a switch to the Otago
Regional Council's still vacant waterfront site continue to
Ms Song yesterday confirmed she had ''made an offer'',
leading to an earlier meeting with ORC representatives to
discuss the regional council's waterfront site, but had heard
And, amid the continuing rumours of a change of site, Ms Song
would not rule out interest in the ORC's site - first saying
she had ''no comment'', but then saying she was ''open to
''We're open to it, but so far I'm not aware that they have
actually come up with any solid plans to show us how this
would work. There's no real commitment that we can see from
''Whether it happens in future or not, we'll see, but we're
definitely not thinking about anything at the moment.''
Her comments came as documents released to the Otago Daily
Times raised questions about Ms Song's decision to scrap
the memorandum of understanding with the council on Monday.
The agreement aimed initially to find solutions to traffic
problems posed by a hotel at 41 Wharf St, but Ms Song cited
ongoing delays completing the overdue traffic report as her
reason for pulling out.
However, a report by Octa Associates, released yesterday,
outlined work by consultant traffic engineers at a March 17
workshop and showed five potential traffic solutions had been
Ms Song confirmed yesterday she was aware of the options,
having been briefed by her consultant after the meeting, and
believed three - including a new intersection built near the
hotel - were ''workable''.
However, after three years' work and a bill of more than $1
million, Ms Song defended the decision to quit the agreement
as the release of the final report approached, saying the
move was ''not strange''.
''In business, time is everything ... We have given the
council a month after a month after a month, and we just seem
to be endlessly waiting.
''How do you expect to work in a business with your partner
or someone like that? The confidence and the trust has been
The decision to quit the agreement was also questioned by
Mayor Dave Cull on Monday when he accused Ms Song of
''abrogating this agreement on a pretext''.
He would not be drawn on her motives, but the ODT
reported last month Betterways Advisory Ltd - of which Ms
Song is a director - had met ORC representatives to discuss
the council's waterfront site, which was zoned for hotel use.
ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead last month confirmed the
council would decide later this year whether to press ahead
with its waterfront headquarters or sell the site.
Whether a sale to Betterways could occur ''will be a question
that may arise depending on where their process with the
[DCC], and the MOU, ends up'', he said at the time.
Yesterday, he said there had been ''no formal contact'' with
Betterways since the earlier meeting, and the ORC was yet to
consider the site's future.
He could not say whether the cancellation of Betterways'
agreement with the city council changed proposals for the
site, but there were no plans to meet Betterways'
The Octa report released yesterday showed the five options to
improve traffic around Betterways' proposed hotel site ranged
from minor changes to the more dramatic.
That included building a new signal-controlled intersection
where Wharf, Thomas Burns and Fryatt Sts met, or realigning
the Jetty St overbridge off-ramp, both of which were
Other options ruled out at earlier stages included building a
vehicle tunnel under railway land in the area, linking the
hotel and Rattray St, which was deemed too expensive, the
Octa report showed.
However, Ms Song said yesterday the options being discussed
showed claims traffic problems at the site were
''insurmountable'' were ''just not true''.
''There are ... potential solutions that could work,'' she
Council infrastructure and networks general manager Tony
Avery said it was true the Octa report had identified options
that ''potentially were workable'', as well as risks, but
that was not the end of the process.
The report was to feed into the final traffic report, which
Ms Song had been waiting for, but that had not been
completed, he said.
''What [Octa] have identified are options ... the full
impacts of those options on traffic flows and entry into and
out of the hotel and things, still needed to be judged by
Betterways and the council, and that hadn't happened.
''You've got a distinction between technically feasible
options and whether those options and their implications
would be acceptable.''
Mr Avery would not speculate on the reasons for Ms Song's
decision to quit the agreement, but said it had left council
staff ''surprised and disappointed''.
''We thought we were making progress.''