The Whangarei District mayor and councillors have welcomed the announcement that major hotel chain Millennium and Copthorne has conditionally purchased a strategic property for a hotel development in central Whangarei.
“Whangarei has needed more top-notch accommodation for many years. This sale is the culmination of a long process," said Council chief Executive Rob Forlong.
"Identifying the direction our community wants to set for the city, we checked with the public about the future use of this site, sought developers and negotiated a deal."
The 8-10 Dent Street property is beside Laurie Hall Park and just a short walk from the Town Basin and the Hundertwasser development.
The price paid was $2.15 million, market price, matching the independent valuation for the land. Council will retain ownership of the Laurie Hall Park carparks at the bottom of the property.
“In October 2012 we went through a formal, notified public consultation process, identifying whether this property should be used for a hotel development," said Forlong.
"Once approved, the childcare centre moved out of the old villa at Number 8 Dent to brand-new, purpose-built facilities at Riverside Drive. Tenancy agreements with the eight people at Almond Court (Number 10) were then updated to reflect that the flats would be vacated for hotel development when the land sold. Our main concern at this stage is to ensure re-homing for tenants is managed gently and sensitively.”
Council’s district development manager Tony Collins said one of the first questions asked by potential travellers is not, “what is there to do, but, “where can we stay?”
“So while we have a number of very good accommodation providers in the District already, the additional capacity of this proposal and the level of accommodation that is proposed will be a welcome addition to the market for travellers," said Collins.
"The visitor industry is not just about domestic and international tourists or those visiting friends and family. Many visitors who make use of hotel accommodation are here on business providing services to local people in the area of health, education, justice and commerce.
"Without this accommodation, the cost of providing this service would be higher and the District less attractive to these people operating here. For Whangarei’s businesses, having another 100-120 people staying on the fringe of the city centre will make future restaurant/hospitality opportunities in the centre more viable as they provide a ready patronage for such establishments.
“At the council, we see this as a solid endorsement of the work we have been doing to guide the future direction of the central city. The various plans and strategies developed by the council in recent times have made it easy for us to articulate that vision, giving the developer confidence as to the direction the city is heading.
Mayor Sheryl Mai was pleased to see Millennium and Copthorne coming to Whangarei.
“We are constantly pushing ahead and developing as a District, and this is an affirmation of that movement. Our scenery has always been a drawcard, but reasons to come here are broadening," she said.
"In just over a decade we have developed a new library, the Stadium has been upgraded, world-matching Te Matau a Pohe has become a major landmark as well as a significant transport route. The Hatea Loop, Hihiaua Cultural Centre, and projects like the Hundertwasser Art Centre are adding to the vitality.
"It is great to see a new hotel of this size and quality coming into the District, and I am sure that Whangarei will need and benefit from developments like this.
“Our team has enjoyed working with the Millennium Copthorne on this proposal.”