Queenstown conference centre drags on

The proposed Remarkables Park convention centre. GRAPHIC: SUPPLIED
The proposed Remarkables Park convention centre. GRAPHIC: SUPPLIED
Almost six years since it was announced and four years since it was first touted to be open for business, Alastair Porter’s proposed conference centre’s still on paper.

Meanwhile, Destination Queenstown’s about to hit print on its own ‘Convention Centre Advocacy Document’ hoping to encourage anyone to build a convention centre in the resort.

Porter, the Remarkables Park Ltd boss, announced his plans for a centre at Frankton back in September 2013, on the eve of City Hall’s vote on the mooted $60 million-plus Lakeview convention centre.

At that meeting Porter told councillors he’d have consent lodged by the end of that year and it’d be up and running in 2015.

It took until the end of 2016 for his $40 million, 2650 square metre centre to get consent – by then the council had walked away from the Lakeview centre and Porter thought his would be open in 2018.

But then last June he told filing a resource consent variation within the month to make the centre about 20 per cent bigger, and in a slightly different location, closer to the shopping centre and his proposed gondola, aiming to have it open in two years.

He’s yet to put a peg in the ground.

In a message to from the United States, Porter says his centre’s “making progress”.

While “a little early for detailed comment” he says he’s still working on lodging a variation to the consent to move it about 200m west, beside the extension of Cherry Blossom Avenue.

“This location has a number of advantages including more flexibility for layout and expansion if required.”

DQ boss Graham Budd says he’s not frustrated at the amount of time it’s taking Porter and co to get the centre to rise from the ground, but “it seems like we’ve been talking about this for many years – and we have”.

The RTO’s kept advocating within the industry for a convention centre in the resort, and rather than just talking about it, “we wanted to have something we could refer people to”.

Budd says the end result’s designed as a discussion/consultation document for anyone “who might consider the potential to invest in a convention centre here”.

He appreciates the complexities of Remarkables Park, which has “a whole bunch of components and moving parts”.

“Along the way we’ve been very closely kept up to speed by the Porter Group – we totally support that.

“But, it’s our role to take a destination-wide perspective … [and] the opportunity remains.”

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