Mayor backs controversial hotel development
Monday 18 Mar 2013 10:08 a.m.
Dunedin mayor Dave Cull is backing the construction of a 28-storey hotel on the city's waterfront, as it goes before a resource consent committee today.
The hotel, proposed in May last year by Betterways Advisory Ltd, would have 215 bedrooms and 164 self-contained apartments, and cost $100 million to build.
But many residents are bitterly opposed to the hotel, with one architect telling the Sunday Star-Times that concept art made it look like it came "from the set of Miami Vice".
Others are concerned it will block views of the harbour, and that its design doesn't mesh with the rest of the city.
This morning Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said Dunedin "clearly needs more tourist infrastructure".
"This would be a quantum shift in the capacity of the city, and we certainly don't have a five-star hotel at the moment. The issues are really around, is it appropriate in that spot? And that's what the hearing's about."
- VIDEO: Dave Cull on Firstline
He agrees there are also concerns around the hotel's proposed height – 96m – and location.
"It would clearly tower above anything else in the city at the moment," says Mr Cull, "and it's quite close to an area called the Warehouse Precinct, which is the old 19th century warehouse and commercial area of Dunedin, which we're currently revitalising.
"There's some concern about the juxtaposition of the two. Personally, I don't think that is an issue. There's plenty of instances around the world where contemporary architecture sits quite happily beside heritage architecture."
Another issue that has been raised is that its location – Wharf St – sits on reclaimed land, with one architect saying if there was a quake, Dunedin could have its very own Hotel Grand Chancellor.
But the concerns don't appear to bother Mr Cull.
"From a personal point of view, I rather like it. But clearly that's a subjective view – other people can't stand it. So let's see what the resource consent hearing finds."
Rock legends Aerosmith last month announced their only New Zealand show would be at Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium in April, but more often than not the city struggles to attract big events because of its lack of facilities," says Mr Cull.
"We don't have a five-star hotel. This would add a tremendous of not only capacity, but quality to the tourist offering in the city.
"So from the point of view of both events, and from the point of view of high-end tourists, this would be a real bonus."
The woman behind Betterways, Jing Song, told the Otago Daily Times on the weekend the hotel was an "exciting and invigorating project for Dunedin".
''We've got the opportunity to have the best hotel in the country. Dunedin is ready for a world-class hotel and here's the opportunity.''