New ILT hotel will change much more than just the city's skyscape

Invercargill Licensing Trust president Alan Dennis, left, and general manager Greg Mulvey outside the site of the ...
KAVINDA HERATH/FAIRFAX NZ

Invercargill Licensing Trust president Alan Dennis, left, and general manager Greg Mulvey outside the site of the trust's planned new hotel.

EDITORIAL: The ILT's planned new hotel will be a transformative presence in Invercargill.

A major undertaking in itself, it also stakes out a position many other developers can now plan around. 

It adds much-needed certainty to the overarching civic, business and cultural agenda for inner-city rejuvenation.

In the end, the trust has opted for the corner of Don and Dee Streets for a hotel which, in its initial incarnation, will have a $40 million budget, 80 rooms, restaurant-cafe, conference facilities -- all designed with provision to make the addition of 40 rooms a fairly straightforward process in future.

READ MORE: ILT to build new hotel

It says much for the capaciousness of the trust's coffers that it already has most of that $40 million in reserve, raising the prospect that the hotel may open debt free or as near as dammit.

This, in itself must come as a relief to the many community groups that look to the trust for grants each year. The reassurance has come quickly that this level of return to the community will be be maintained, or close to it, as the construction goes ahead.

Somewhat surprisingly, the trust also projects no great impact on the future of its other hotels, notably the nearby Kelvin. In doing so it is placing faith in the continued growth in the tourist market – a growth that has been a tad slow showing up in Invercargill until quite recently.

But on a day when trust representatives could have been excused for highlighting the feelgood factors of their decision, they were far from extravagant in their descriptions of the project and the planning work behind it. 

Time and again they hammered the message that this was a clear-eyed decision made when the economic factors at long last stacked up to their satisfaction, and in the knowledge that they were in essence spending public money. (Cheers to trust president Alan Dennis for calling it that; out loud and everything.  We can think of outfits that have arranged their affairs to keep the relationship between "public" and "money" one that effectively describes only a system of supply, not a reason for accountability).

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There are planning issues, none of which should get in the way of the hotel project. The corner building is more decrepit than distinguished and, at a time when the community faces decisions about which downtown buildings are, and are not, worth saving, this one needs to fall.

The need to return Don Street to two-way status has already been accepted by the council and consents for the new building do not immediately appear to present any substantial problems, notwithstanding that its height at six or seven storeys would require specific consent. Corner buildings like this, in an inner-city environment, should be high. And handsome.

 

 - Stuff

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