9 Dec 2018

Wellington convention centre faces final hurdle

1:16 pm on 9 December 2018

Wellington's mayor has thrown his full support behind a proposed waterfront convention centre ahead of the council vote this week.

The proposed convention centre

The proposed convention centre Photo: Supplied

The $154 million convention centre would be built on Council-owned land opposite Te Papa, catering for 2200 people and featuring a 1600 square metre exhibition space.

The original plan was to build a combined conference centre and movie museum but Sir Peter Jackson and the team behind the museum walked away in August.

The new proposal will be voted on by the Wellington City Council's City Strategy Committee on Thursday.

Wellington's mayor Justin Lester said the convention centre has been years in the making and now all it needs is the final nod from the City Council to start construction in August 2019.

"Wellington doesn't currently have a flat floor convention space - we don't have an exhibition centre and we're going to be able to bring national and international exhibitions - like Harry Potter, we're using Weta Workshop, World of Wearable Arts, Avatar - and a whole host of other exhibitions that we're going to bring in.

"And also, we're going to have a net benefit to the Wellington economy in GDP - it's about $45m a year - and about 550 jobs."

The council has set aside $165.5m for the convention centre in its 2018-28 Long Term Plan but that includes $25m in funding from the government that has yet to be confirmed.

The business case for the convention centre showed a strong economic return on the convention centre, with a benefit cost ratio of 5.1:1.

"One of the benefits of this project as well is you'll see a whole host of development around it," Mr Lester said.

"You'll see new hotels being built, you'll see apartments being constructed, an entertainment centre is likely to go across the road, this will be a good catalyst to develop a precinct linking the waterfront through to Courtenay precinct as well."

Hoping to share some of those benefits are the many cafes, restaurants and hotels in Wellington.

"It's going to be fantastic - it's something that Wellington has really lacked," Hospitality New Zealand's Wellington president Matt McLaughlin said.

"I think when it's all done and dusted and we've got conventions coming through, Wellington's hospitality can be showcased to the whole of Australasia, and Asia and to the whole world."