'Inaccuracies' in Fea's case for CBD conference centre

Remarkables Park developer Alistair Porter says a prominent Queenstown accountant who is lobbying for a convention centre in the resort's CBD has got his facts wrong.

Mr Porter, who plans to start building a convention centre next to the Remarkables Park shopping centre in 2016, said he was surprised Crowe Horwath managing principal for Central Otago Duncan Fea had entered the debate without talking to Remarkables Park Ltd about its proposal.

Mr Fea had made ''a number of factual inaccuracies and incomplete statements'' about the issue, Mr Porter said.

This week, Mr Fea emailed a ''Queenstown Convention Centre Q&A'' to several hundred contacts. The email raises and rebuts criticisms of the Queenstown Lakes District Council's proposal to build a convention centre at Lakeview.

Among the points raised, Mr Fea says all residents would benefit from a convention centre even though businesses would contribute about two-thirds of its cost.

A convention centre in Frankton would not attract ''high-end'' conventions and would face challenges moving attendees from CBD hotels to the venue. A convention centre on the Lakeview site would help revitalise the CBD, he said.

A ''conservative estimate'' was that a council-run centre could break even in its third year and make an annual operating surplus of at least $500,000 in its fifth year.

''In short, the Frankton proposal is about what's good for a private developer wishing to develop a large-scale residential and commercial development,'' Mr Fea writes.

''The Queenstown convention centre is about building something that is good for the whole community and revitalising our CBD.''

Mr Porter said the community would derive similar economic benefits from a convention centre whether the community or Remarkables Park paid for it.

''We are not sure why Mr Fea prefers a socialist model where the ratepayers have to provide and pay for these services, as opposed to the private sector.''

The council's proposal had CBD businesses paying only 35% of the cost, yet there was ''no legitimate basis'' for households in the district or businesses outside the CBD paying for it.

The Lakeview site was not an easy walk from the CBD. Conference attendees would face a climb of 80 vertical metres from the waterfront. Lakeview was also a 1.1km walk from the Novotel hotel and 1.5km from the Millennium and Copthorne hotels, he said.

Mr Porter also questioned Mr Fea's forecast of a $500,000 surplus by year five ''when the council's own information does not support this''.

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