New hotel - 'the city needs this'

Dunedin's latest five-star hotel bid is shaping up as a $90 million building with space for more than 200 high-end rooms, one of its backers says.

The Dunedin-based spokesman for the developers told the Otago Daily Times it was envisaged the hotel - which ''the city needs'' - would comprise about 200 guest rooms, built to an international five-star standard, as well as apartments, office space and parking.

A price tag of between $85 million and $90 million would be "probably about right'' for the building, which could be 15 storeys high, he said.

"It could be less, it could be more [storeys],'' he said.

The developers already had a brief for the development from a "big international outfit'' that had agreed to operate it, but were still working on detailed design plans, he said.

He declined to reveal his identity, or that of the operator or the principal developer while talks with the Dunedin City Council were at a sensitive early stage.

But the spokesman stressed the development, if it proceeded, would deliver a windfall for the city's tourism infrastructure and attract investment.

It was expected to create "several hundred'' jobs during its design, construction and operational phases, and would involve "as much local input as possible'', he said.

The development would also seek to learn from past mistakes, including respecting the city's heritage, to avoid any repeat of the ructions that occurred over the city's failed 27-storey waterfront hotel project.

"It will be new, but it won't be a 30-storey glass block. I've done a hell of a lot of jobs on sensitive sites and you respect the heritage.

"It doesn't mean you have to mimic it, but you respect it.''

The spokesman's comments came after the ODT reported earlier this week the council was in talks with an unnamed developer about a five-star hotel on the council-owned Filleul St car park site.

The project is understood to involve overseas financing and other interests, believed to be from China and New Zealand.

The spokesman said he had extensive experience with similar developments, including three South Island hotel complexes, and the group would release detailed plans to the public "at the appropriate time''.

If successful, the hotel would boost capacity for big events, such as November's Fleetwood Mac concert, provide a tourism boost for the city and attract the types of five-star visitors and investors already drawn to Queenstown, he said.

The site would present a design "challenge'' and some views from the nearby Kingsgate Hotel would be disrupted, but "we aren't going to shaft our neighbours'', he said.

"Kingsgate will still get views ... We need views too, but we have a few unique ways of getting a win-win.''

The hotel development would also provide extra parking, for guests and the public, beyond what was already available at the Filleul St site, he said.

That would include both leased and pay-per-hour parking spaces.

About 15 people were involved in the project, including the principal developer and a team of consultants.

The spokesman said he was involved because "this town's been good to me and I want to be good back, if I can''.

Contracts were yet to be signed but those behind the project were working "collegially'' with the council, and discussions with other affected stakeholders would follow, he said.

He would not give an exact timeline, but hoped for progress within months.

"There's a good feeling about the thing. It's moving forward.

"The city needs this.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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