Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden described an
11th-hour announcement of a private company's plans to
construct a convention centre at Frankton as ''disrespectful'',
while the council's chief executive has labelled it
Today, the council will make one of the most significant
decisions in its recent history - whether or not to support a
convention centre at the Lakeview site, near the Queenstown
Late yesterday, Remarkables Park Ltd (RPL) co-director
Alastair Porter issued a statement, announcing plans to
construct a convention centre on fully zoned land at the
The Otago Daily Times understands Mr Porter emailed
councillors at 5.20pm, inviting them to a morning briefing on
his proposal, ahead of the extraordinary full council meeting
Both Ms van Uden and chief executive Adam Feeley have said
the announcement will not affect this afternoon's meeting.
Mr Porter told the ODT ''we've got the money''.
But in the statement he said the Remarkables Park Conference
Centre was ''based on private equity funding'' although RPL
''remained open to joint venture capital injections from
other private equity, central government and/or local
government sources'' which would enable a higher
The announcement came as news to Ms van Uden and to Mr
Feeley, who said it was ''curious and interesting timing''.
''There are people who are going to pick up the paper [today]
... and think why are we going to spend ratepayer money when
Father Christmas is presenting us with a convention
centre?''Well, I've got news for them - Father Christmas
doesn't exist,'' Mr Feeley said.
The council's proposal has been on the drawing board for two
years and subject to various meetings and hearings, as well
as a request for proposals - during which RPL made a
submission which involved a centre in Frankton.
Ms van Uden said a panel of independent experts declined the
company's proposal because it was in the ''wrong location'',
it required ''primarily public funding'' and the council was
concerned it would ''undermine the economic growth of the CBD
Mr Porter said at the time of the briefing in February, RPL
would forge ahead with its own facility.
''And just in case that message hasn't got through to the
councillors, we're making that point again.''
However, Ms van Uden said in the seven months since the
briefing Mr Porter had ''not mentioned once'' to her or the
council he had an alternative proposal.
''This community has just gone through a four-week
consultation process and at no point has he taken the
courtesy to let them know there was an alternative
Despite today's meeting being well publicised in the media
over the past month, Mr Porter claimed to have only learned
of it ''late last week''.
However, the council first issued its public advice of the
do-or-die meeting on August 21.
It was initially set down for September 10.
Porter Group Ltd - the developer of Remarkables Park and
Shotover Park - filed a written submission on August 31 and
it made no mention of RPL's plans.
The public submissions hearing was held on September 3 - at
which Mr Porter spoke - and the Mountain Scene
reported two days later the meeting had been postponed until
today. Mr Porter said he had tried to make an ''urgent
appointment'' with Mr Feeley, but Mr Feeley could not see him
until next week.
He said he did not divulge in his messages what he wanted to
discuss with Mr Feeley.
Yesterday's announcement was because the company did not want
to be ''criticised for not keeping councillors informed''.
He also thought it ''appropriate'' to divulge the plans
before the council made a decision.
When asked about the funding, Mr Porter said ''we've got the
Mr Feeley said if that were true, it would be a ''remarkable
achievement'' and one which no other convention centre in
Australia or New Zealand had achieved.
Traditionally, convention centres received public funding
because they could not deliver a return on the capital
required to build them.
''If Alastair's achieved the hitherto unachievable, then why
not have the discussion - our door is always open.
''If he does have a genuine proposal, then I can't speak for
councillors - they might seriously consider it - but that
would be quite different to firing out a media statement at
the 11th hour.
''That smacks to me of a grandstanding.''
Ms van Uden said if Mr Porter had the funding and was ''good
to go, show us''.
''Until he's shown us, why should we put what this community
has spent two years getting to this point on on hold?
''I don't think we'd ever be silly enough to walk down that
path. I don't suffer from having an ego that big.''
• The council has previously named SkyCity Entertainment
Group as the preferred operator of the proposed Queenstown
convention centre, but today the council will not make that
final decision. - Additional reporting: Ryan Keen,
• Located immediately east of the Remarkables Park Town
Centre on a fully zoned site and could be granted
• Construction could begin next year on the centre, which
would cater to 650 for dinner and almost 1000 for conference
• It would include a large exhibition area, smaller break-out
rooms and could be expanded to cater for future growth.
• It would not require a rates levy to underwrite operations
and losses and would be based on private equity funding.