Accor gets say in convention centre

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014
Convention Centre

ANCHOR PROJECT: An artist's impression of the new Convention Centre, which will be designed and built by Plenary Conventions, Ngai Tahu Property and Carter Group.

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The firm picked as the preferred operator for Christchurch's new convention centre is to have a say in its design.

French-based global hotel chain Accor has been chosen to run and help plan the $500 million centre, to be developed for the city by Australian consortium Plenary, local iwi Ngai Tahu, and local investor The Carter Group.

Accor also hopes to open new hotels in or near the precinct, which will run from Cathedral to Victoria squares and is due to open in 2017.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) says the involvement of "proven international companies" demonstrates the economic viability of the convention centre.

Accor Pacific senior vice-president, Garth Simmons, said hotels and the convention centre went hand-in-hand. "If you can't sleep ‘em, it's hard to have conventions."

The company would spend the next few months in the master-planning process with the Government and developers, Simmons said.

The firm would also apply to operate the convention centre long-term.

Accor manages convention and exhibition space in India, Europe and Australia, including operating Sydney's convention centre for 20 years. It also runs airport lounges.

The chain has the 155-room Ibis and 154-room Novotel in Christchurch, both a stone's throw from the convention centre site.

In other New Zealand cities it operates the luxury Sofitel, Pullman, St Moritz, and Sebel brands, as well as the cheaper Grand Mercure.

Simmons said new hotels were "certainly part of our plan, especially upscale ones".

"We would be very interested in more hotel rooms in Christchurch, it'll be a focus for us for the next few years.

"But it's a bit early to say just what."

Cera implementation deputy chief executive Warwick Isaacs said how the development consortium split the costs would be discussed during the master planning and development stage for the precinct.

The Crown's $284m commitment included the design, construction and delivery of the convention centre, as well as the purchase of land for the entire precinct.

The centre would provide substantial benefits for Christchurch and New Zealand by attracting events and conference visitors, he said.

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