Private backing for parking buildings off council agenda

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has abandoned a search for private investors for two proposed car parking buildings in the resort’s town centre, citing a "changing business environment".

The council released a registration of interest  in August to gauge private sector interest in helping fund the estimated $44 million cost of the buildings: one with 242 spaces on the Boundary St car park, and  the other with 350 spaces in Ballarat St.

But the council cancelled the registration of interest on December 21 — having received six responses — on the grounds it was "re-evaluating its car parking requirements".

Property and infrastructure general manager Peter Hansby declined an interview, but in emailed statements said the council was now looking at a wider range of long-term parking and public transport options for the town centre.

"We did not wish to continue with a market process which might not have resulted in a development outcome."

The move was unrelated to an ongoing delay in securing NZ Transport Agency funding for the town centre arterial road — on whose outer edge the two parking buildings would sit, he said.

Planning, design and consenting work for the Boundary Rd building was continuing, and its construction was funded in the council’s 10-year plan.

Once the council had re-evaluated its position, it might consider releasing a revised registration of interest early this year.

Although Mr Hansby did not say so, the search for a private sector partner for a Ballarat St parking building would appear to be on hold because the council has begun commercial negotiations with Ngai Tahu Property on a joint development of the site.

In October, the council entered into a memorandum of understanding with the company to discuss a potential joint venture.

Were it to proceed, it would include car parking as well as new council offices, a public library and an arts and performance facility.

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