A multimillion-dollar redevelopment of Dunedin's
waterfront could still be on the table, but the ball is firmly
in the court of hotel developer Jing Song to be part of it, the
Otago Regional Council says.
Ms Song, a director of Betterways Advisory Ltd, is refusing
to be drawn on her plans, after scrapping an agreement with
the Dunedin City Council to try to build the hotel at 41
She told the Otago Daily Times she was not yet ready to
commit to a new project.
''We are considering whether we are still doing something, or
not, in Dunedin.''
The comments came after it was confirmed the ORC had prepared
''high level'' plans for the redevelopment of the city's
harbour basin - including a waterfront hotel - late last
The plans were among documents released to the ODT last week,
following an official information request.
They showed a new marine science institute/aquarium, ORC
headquarters and waterfront hotel, clustered together on the
southern edge of the harbour basin.
Emails also released indicated Betterways' representatives
were interested in a possible development on ORC land as
recently as April.
ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker told the ODT the concept
plans were prepared by Mason and Wales Architects - at the
request of a senior ORC manager - following media reports Ms
Song might consider shifting her hotel to the ORC's vacant
They aimed to show how a new, yet-to-be-confirmed ORC
waterfront headquarters could fit with a waterfront hotel and
the University of Otago's suggested aquarium development.
While the university had since placed its aquarium plans on
hold, other parts of the plan could still be options for the
future, Mr Bodeker confirmed.
Ms Song had expressed interest in developing all three
buildings - as a back-up to its hotel plans at 41 Wharf St -
during a meeting with Mr Bodeker and others in Auckland on
December 4 last year, Mr Bodeker said.
Also at the meeting were Ms Song's husband, Ping Cao, ORC
chairman Stephen Woodhead, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and DCC
The concept plans had not been considered by ORC councillors,
nor any decisions made, and the ORC was still evaluating its
need for a new headquarters.
That work was expected to be completed later this year, and
would determine what the ORC wanted to do with its waterfront
''That's the big 'if', and that work hasn't been completed
yet,'' Mr Bodeker said.
A hotel development on the site was still an option that
could be considered, including if Betterways was to approach
the ORC, he said.
''If it did, and that was a viable option, then we would
Mr Bodeker denied the ORC had dropped the ball earlier this
year, after being asked by the DCC to discuss a hotel on its
site with Betterways' representatives.
That request led to the December 4 meeting in Auckland, after
which Mr Bodeker wrote to Ms Song, stating he would respond
to questions arising from the meeting by late January this
No letter was sent, prompting a follow-up query from
Betterways solicitor Phil Page to the ORC on April 8, days
before Betterways scrapped its agreement with the DCC, the
Mr Bodeker emailed back, saying he and Mr Woodhead had
instead agreed to a DCC request to send the answers to the
DCC, which was to forward them to Betterways, the emails
However, the DCC withheld the information until April 29,
when it was eventually emailed to a Betterways
representative, former city councillor Syd Brown, along with
an explanation for the delay.
The information related to the ownership of the sites, split
between the ORC and Chalmers Properties, a subsidiary of
ORC-owned company Port Otago, and surrounding land.
Council infrastructure and networks manager Tony Avery, in
the email, said the DCC had been ''mindful'' of Betterways'
desire to focus on options for 41 Wharf St, and held back the
material to not ''cut across or complicate that focus''.
Mr Bodeker told the ODT he was ''not concerned at all'' with
the approach, as it was the city council that had the ''major
relationship'' with Betterways.
Ms Song did not blame the ORC for the delay, but would not be
drawn on whether it had affected her enthusiasm for a
development on their land.
She would not say how long it would take to decide her next
move, or whether Betterways would consider approaching the
ORC in future.
''Whether they want to approach us ... it's really totally up
Mr Bodeker stressed the council was not in talks ''either
formally or informally'' to pursue a hotel development on its
And even if the ORC decided to pursue a development or sale
of the site, it would not ''necessarily'' approach Betterways
directly, he said.
That meant the ball was in Betterways' court, he confirmed.
''They certainly haven't come near us since they made the
decision around the Wharf St site. Maybe that could be a
conclusion - that they've moved on elsewhere in their