No word yet on resort centre

GRANT BRYANT IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 10:58 11/12/2012

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Details of the pitches received for Queenstown's $40 million-plus conference centre will remain top secret until early next year.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council put out the call for developers' submissions for a progressive, future-proof, world-class 800-seat convention centre in September.

The submission cut-off was 4pm on Friday. On Friday the council's communications team said the number of submissions received would be released yesterday, but through a press release Queenstown Mayor Vanessa van Uden back-tracked on that, saying only "several" had been received and the integrity of the evaluation process depended on secrecy.

The actual number would only be revealed after an evaluation panel had had an opportunity to crunch some numbers and work through each proposal's merits.

"In the meantime both council and the working party will be making no further comment, to maintain the integrity of the evaluation, until the review process and recommendations have been received from the panel," she said.

The evaluation process would be progressed "as quickly as possible" so the public could be informed of the outcome "as early as possible" in the New Year.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the pitches received, there is a hint the evaluation panel could be considering teaming up different strengths from different submissions and taking a consortium approach to the $40 million-plus project hoped to act as a flagship to the resort and generate a whole new sector of high-yield international business.

"The next step was to work through the detail of whether a business case existed to work with a consortium of interests to take the project to the next phase," the press release said.

The council's new high-profile chief executive Adam Feeley's wealth of experience gained from helming the overhaul of Auckland's Eden Park in time to act as a flagship venue for last year's Rugby World Cup would help steer crucial decisions on the conference centre, Ms van Uden said.

"His input will be a real asset together with relevant industry experts both on the panel and available to provide advice to the panel," she said.

Another high-profile personality has been appointed to help out.

Auckland Crown Solicitor Simon Moore has been Crown Solicitor of New Zealand's largest city since 1994, and as such is tasked with prosecuting all serious crime in the Auckland region.

When Mr Feeley stepped down as head of the Serious Fraud Office in August Mr Moore praised his tenure, saying that under Feeley's leadership the office developed real teeth, was able to hold up some major scalps and gained a high public profile.

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- The Southland Times

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