A major hotel development in Napier is being planned as one of four hotel proposals which could add more than 300 rooms to the accommodation market in the city.
The hotel, still in the concept drawing stage and expected to have about 100 rooms, targets the Rebel Sport site and neighbouring properties.
They have been bought by an Auckland family company which hopes to start soon on a smaller four-level hotel, with 47 rooms and four top-level apartments, nearby on the corner of Marine Parade and Albion Lane.
Already under way is the unrelated development of the PwC Centre on the corner of Munroe and Raffles streets as the DoubleTree by Hilton Napier, set to open later this year.
That will have about 40 rooms and serviced apartments.
The Napier City Council is also still "talking with parties" about hotel proposals for the site of the abandoned city council buildings in Hastings St, directly across the road from Rebel Sport.
The sports giant currently occupies the site historically occupied by motor companies Crichton Ford and before that Monarch Motors.
But it is scheduled to move with also Hastings St-based sister operation Briscoes to a new complex on the former Napier railway yards off Munroe St.
Among other sites included in the redevelopment of the Rebel Sport site is the Marine Parade site of globally-recognised Kiwi Keith's Quality Backpackers (formerly the Waterfront Lodge), but neighbouring Marine Parade multi-landmark the six sisters is not included.
Behind the project, and that on the Marine Parade-Albion Lane corner, which is currently a parking area, is Auckland's Pandey Family, which has hotel interests elsewhere.
The family is committed to investing in the Hawke's Bay market, according to architect Ian Seddon, of Designgroup Stapleton Elliott+PMA, Napier.
The four-storey hotel, with Marine Parade and Hastings St frontages, will be on the site of the former Norfolk House and Opossum World, currently used for parking, with the Sunken Garden across the road.
It won't include a bar or restaurant. The developers told Hawke's Bay Today they wanted to ensure other such services in the area also benefit.
Ground-floor covered parking is included in the development and many of the rooms are oriented to the view over Marine Parade, with balconies.
The building height exceeds the 10-metres limitation of the district plan's Marine Parade Character Zone, but in the resource consent process the developers hope that will be accepted because of the set-back design features.
Napier Mayor Bill Dalton confirmed the council is still "talking with parties" about the possibility of a hotel development on the council building site, as well as having a high-level group working on currently wide-ranging possibilities for the adjoining library site.
Dalton said if hotel development went ahead on the council site then the number of new hotel rooms between the four developments in Napier would be well over 300.
"We need to make it clear if it goes ahead it's not a council development — just simply deciding what is the best use of the council site.
"With Hawke's Bay Airport, Napier is the gateway to Hawke's Bay and provides I think over 70 per cent of the accommodation bed in Hawke's Bay.
"People who come here like to stay in Napier but visit all the other wonderful attractions we have in Hawke's Bay."
Tourism Hawke's Bay general manager Annie Dundas said hotel and motel occupancy rates had been increasing in Napier — "over 70 per cent but levelling-off in winter" — and if projects such as the aquarium redevelopment go ahead the demand for accommodation will increase.