The $136 million Oruku conference and event centre proposal could yet be derailed if the sale of the land on which it is planned to sit doesn't go through.
Whangārei District Council (WDC)'s Oruku conference and event centre issues and options briefing meeting heard on Wednesday that the sale of the land was not yet finalised.
This comes just 48 hours ahead of the council making a formal decision on whether to proceed with the proposed centre and putting up to $70 million towards it. This decision would be made in the wake of the council's final confirmed number of 5197 submissions on the proposal being 4:1 against it doing so.
WDC sold the 1.3ha leasehold Riverside Drive, Town Basin, Oruku Landing development site for $1.9m in 2013. (This sale was not to the current developer).
Private developer Northland Development Corporation (NRC) owns the land - on which it plans to create its $250m Oruku Landing hotel, apartment and retail development.
WDC is looking to buy back .5840ha of this land, in a freehold purchase, for $10m - conditional on the council deciding to go ahead with the centre. This land is where the publicly-funded $136m Oruku conference and event centre would be built as a lynchpin part of the private developer's overall project.
Alan Adcock, WDC general manager corporate, said in a presentation to Wednesday's meeting that working towards resolving the land purchase in no way predetermined the outcome of Friday's deliberations. This was because the sale had always been conditional on WDC going ahead with the centre.
He said however, the project could obviously not proceed without the land to build it on.
Adcock told councillors that in an ideal world, the sale would be resolved ahead of Friday's decision meeting.
However, should the council wish to vote in favour of going ahead with the centre on Friday - without the sale having been finalised – its decision could be made subject to the land sale concluding to the council's satisfaction.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said after the meeting she was confident the sale negotiations, to the satisfaction of the council and the vendor, would be concluded ahead of Friday's meeting.
The issues and options meeting came in the wake of council receiving its confirmed final figure of 5197 submissions about the centre in a month-long October 18 to November 18 public consultation period.
Of the confirmed 5181 submissions processed, 4022 or 78 per cent wanted the council to can the Oruku Landing conference and event centre. There were 964 submissions or 18 per cent of the submissions that were in favour of WDC instead going ahead with it. There were also 195 submissions or 4 per cent that were neutral or did not state a preferred position.
Five options emerged around project funding and scope at Wednesday's meeting – those that were in favour of proceeding needing a formal amendment to WDC's 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.
Four were around proceeding with the project, the fifth to abandon the project.
Councillor Gavin Benney said the first option was not a reality, as going for this would mean the project could not proceed. This was the original proposal that went out for public consultation on October 18 - $57m from WDC and an extra 6 per cent rates rise for 2022/2023.
The second option was for WDC putting $70.15m into the centre – an extra 7 per cent rates increase in 2022/2023 – in line with the project's November 4 updated preliminary design report.
Both of these included the centre's accompanying ferry terminal and footbridge across the Hātea River.
The third was for WDC putting $67.55m into the centre – an extra 6.75 per cent rates increase in 2022/2023 but removing the ferry terminal from the centre proposal.
The fourth option was for WDC putting $49.5m – an extra 5.5 per cent rates rise in 2022/2023 but removing the ferry terminal and footbridge across the Hātea River.