Global hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton is eyeing New Zealand and Auckland has been tipped to be the first place it might open.

A spokesperson for The Ritz-Carlton said the business was interested in New Zealand although no commitments had yet been made.

"We continuously look for opportunities to expand The Ritz-Carlton presence in New Zealand, but do not have any signed agreements in place at this time," she told the Herald.

Nilesh Patel, retail leasing director at Colliers International's Auckland office, said the global chain might open in a new building planned by a Chinese billionaire for the car parking/reverse bungy jump site between Elliott St, Albert St and Victoria St West in the CBD.

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That site has been vacant since the 1980s.

Previous reports have stated the block planned there, NDG Auckland Centre, was to be at least 52 levels high. The site is owned by an entity associated with Shanghai businessman Furu Ding and his New Development Group.

Patel said The Ritz-Carlton's size and brand would provide a huge boost for tourism in New Zealand and it could be 60 levels of accommodation.

But it would probably not open till next decade, he said. The hotel was due to open on January 1, 2021 but opening dates are now more likely to be 2023 or 2024, Patel said.

The proposed NDG tower.
The proposed NDG tower.

Colliers International's latest retail report out this week also gave an update on the block.

"The NDG Centre has been deferred from 2021 and it will likely be another one to two years before any further announcements are made," said the report released this week.

Chris Dibble, Collier's research and consulting director, said such a big development would transform that area of town.

"Things will be different in that area once the City Rail Link and NZ International Convention Centre is built. What difference does another couple of years make?" Dibble asked.

Patel said Colliers had been dealing with the Chinese over the site for some time and about 20,000sq m or 2ha of shop floor space was also being planned, although nothing was yet confirmed. Shops could be spread across four floors, he said.

"A couple of years ago, we did a pitch to the Chinese owner - who flew over to New Zealand - to lease the retail and commercial space. They're still working through designs. They've had to refine their designs and there's been delays," he said.

A hotel was due to open there on January 1, 2020 but that been pushed out till around 2022, Patel said.

How the NDG tower could look on Auckland's skyline, to the left of the SkyTower.
How the NDG tower could look on Auckland's skyline, to the left of the SkyTower.

Patrick Reynolds, a public transport and cycling advocate calls sites like the NDG land "car parking chasms" and last year, James Kellow of NZ Mortgages & Securities said such big empty sites were bad for the city.

"There are too few incentives to landowners to develop them. The bungy site and Auckland Star sites are obvious candidates," Kellow said.

The NDG tower was first announced in 2012 and mayor Len Brown was enthusiastic about it and optimistic it would be built.

Opinion has been divided about the tower's visual appearance and height and some people called it revolting when images emerged a few years ago.