13 April 2018

New details emerge for inner-city hotel

The main tower of the Invercargill Licensing Trust’s new $40 million hotel is likely to extend up to 10 floors but concept designs are not quite ready for public presentation.

Trust chief executive Chris Ramsay outlined the key points of the trust’s proposal at the Southland Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting on Thursday night.

These included a 10 floor hotel building, standalone cafe, bar, and restaurant offerings, along with conference venues and on site parking.

Ramsay said while concept designs were not ready for public presentation, they were in the final stages of development.

The main tower would extend nine to 10 floors on the corner of Dee and Don St, comprising 88 rooms and a rooftop function space.

A further 32 rooms had been set aside for a future development on the Dee St side of the development, which would be constructed when demand and budget dictated it.

Don St would be home to a separate street cafe, bar, and restaurant.

“Hotel restaurants can be quite tough to market, in that they are deemed to be hotel restaurants.

“We want this to be as standalone as possible, to give it the best chance of succeeding.”

The new development wil also have dedicated conference space, although Ascot Park Hotel would remain the trust’s main conference venue.

In the plans, both Bar Luca and The Kiln would be gone.

“The flow-on effect provides us with an opportunity and a challenge ... we’ve got the opportunity to relocate or rethink our total inner-city food and beverage offering.”

The major potential handbrake to the project was the issue with the Category Two heritage building currently occupying the development space.

“Whilst we remain confident that the city as a whole is keen, the consenting process has the potential to be drawn out,” Ramsay said.

“Heritage New Zealand is going to have a say here, and my hope is that organisation has a thought for the provinces and provincial growth with opportunities like this.

“It’s not often we have this chance, and I mean that with regard to the inner-city CBD block too.”

A range of personnel changes on the chamber of commerce board were also announced at the meeting.

Three-term president Carla Forbes stepped down, with Crowe Horwarth managing principal Neil McAra, who is currently the chamber’s vice-president, taking over as president for the 2018-2019 year.

Forbes said she was grateful to Southland’s business community the and chamber of commerce staff and board.

“The Chamber has been through a lot of change and seen a huge amount of growth.

“Strategically we continuously revisit our offering, ensuring we only engage in activity that offers real benefit to our members.”

Forbes said collaboration was the way forward for Southland businesses, with groups needing to work together effectively to “ensure Southland has a big business voice”.

Forbes congratulated incoming president Neil McAra, saying there was “a fantastic road ahead” for the chamber.

“I am confident he will lead the business community with the utmost respect and acumen.”

Two new elected members were also formally inducted at the AGM tonight: ACC relationship manager for the Southern and Queenstown regions Gareth Butson, and the Invercargill Top 10 Holiday Park’s Laura Todd.

Appointed board member Gretta Stephens stepped down, following her resignation as chief executive of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters.


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