The Wellington City Council has overwhelmingly voted to approve bringing a purpose-built five-star convention centre to the capital.
The council voted 13/2 last night to approve the deal with local developer Mark Dunajtschik, who is building the centre along with and adjacent 165-room hotel on the Cable St site. It will be operated by the Hilton Corporation.
The council will lease the centre at an average net cost to the city of about $2.1 million a year over the lease term.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the decision was a huge win for the capital's economic development, providing revenue and jobs for at least the next 20 years under the terms of the lease.
"The council is enabling a project that will protect and generate around $21 million a year net GDP benefit to the capital.
"Construction will begin within months and the Wellington Convention Centre will open its doors in 2017.
"We'll be well ahead of proposed developments in Auckland and Christchurch," she said.
Tourism NZ showed the New Zealand convention market was expanding and the convention centre opposite Te Papa would be "a huge improvement to the current gap in the urban fabric," Ms Wade-Brown said.
The 4400 square-metre convention centre facility will be able to host up to 1200 conference delegates and have a banqueting capacity for up to 1450 people.
In theatre style seating, the facility can seat 2000 in the largest space.
The council's economic growth committee chairwoman, Councillor Jo Coughlan, said the deal would inject cash, jobs and marketing opportunities into the Wellington's economy.
"The numbers confirm how important this deal is to Wellington. Currently our convention market generates $146 million per year and supports over 1000 full time jobs.
"This new facility will grow jobs by over 200 full time jobs and add $28.6 million in new expenditure, and will drive growth across associated areas like hospitality, tourism and the service sector."
Deputy Mayor and Governance, Finance and Planning Committee chairman Justin Lester said working with the established Hilton brand would prove a strong marketing opportunity on the international market.
"It's exciting that our tertiary institutions have voiced their strong support for this development. In particular, there are great opportunities for hospitality and tourism sector students to have hands-on experience in one of the world's most notable hotel brands," he said.
Public consultation also backed the convention centre, with the overwhelming majority of submissions, including those from the Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce, the Retailers Association and the Property Council voicing support.