Hotel: Grahame Sydney on tenants for 164 apartments

ODT Graphic 17-4-13 The Wash (page 2) proposed hotel, yellow blimpODT Graphic – The Wash, 17.4.13 (page 2)

Anonymous commented here (18.3.13) on the likelihood of the proposed tower apartments being pitched to students from China.

In short, proposed apartments intended as ‘university college’ atop a cheapish 5-star hotel.

Artist Grahame Sydney comes to the same conclusion. An (unpublished) opinion piece he sends to DScene leads reporter Wilma McCorkindale to engage Betterways owner, (note) Steve Rodgers.

We’d like Sydney to publish his full article ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ at What if? – since DScene and Southland Times only reference the item, fleetingly. Too hot to handle? So Grahame, if you’re reading this . . .
[happily, we got it, read the unabridged version here]

### Last updated 14:46 17/04/2013
Hotel a ‘hostel for privileged’
By Southland Times + DScene
Apartments in the proposed hotel for Dunedin’s waterfront could end up being occupied by Chinese students – or anybody else who wants them – project spokesman solicitor Steve Rodgers says.
Rodgers fronts for Betterways Advisory, a company owned by Chinese woman Jing Song*, which is proposing to build the 28-storey, five-star Dunedin Hotel on an industrial site a stone’s throw from the city’s inner harbour. This week he defended scathing commentary about the project, levelled by Otago artist Grahame Sydney.
In an article called Heartbreak Hotel sent to DScene, Sydney voiced several concerns, many already played out during a recent consent hearing – including the hotel’s ability to achieve economically viable occupancy rates. Sydney believed Betterways was targeting the lucrative international student market, specifically Chinese students, by including 164 apartments in the project.
Sydney also complained that a promotional video illustrating the hotel concept deliberately excluded surrounding heritage buildings in its visuals. The impact on heritage values in the city was one of the major concerns raised in submissions.
Read more

*What if? notes the New Zealand Companies Office register entry for Betterways Advisory Ltd (3142026) lists Stephen Rodgers as the sole director, with LMW Trust Limited (3141813) as the shareholder. Jing Song isn’t mentioned in connection with either entity.

Related Posts and Comments:
15.4.13 University buys LivingSpace Dunedin
15.4.13 Shane McGrath —Gelber LuftBallon (Dunedin Research Project)
14.4.13 Ballooning! —playing off Betterways
16.3.13 Hotel: COC jollies and sweet cherry pie
23.1.13 Proposed hotel: Council and submitters await detailed information

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Hot air, Media, Name, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design

22 responses to “Hotel: Grahame Sydney on tenants for 164 apartments

  1. Anonymous

    Comment on Stuff by Freddiefrog:
    So the hotel is not a hotel but a hostel for the priviledged.
    Sounds like Malcolm Farry’s announcement that the stadium is not a stadium. The stadium has ended up being headquarters for the local rugby mafia.

  2. Henry

    Does anyone know how many floors are actually hotel space and how many floors are apartments for rich Chinese students?

  3. jeff dickie

    Using Steve Rodgers’ own statistics, the objectors are indeed a small percentage of the population. However, those submissions in support of the hotel are a mere tenth of that! It is the old stadium argument all over again. 2,000 people turn up to the Town Hall to protest, therefore the remaining 118,000 must be in support. It is an argument used over and over again for pushing unpopular agendas. There is an interesting book on the subject, “How to Lie with Statistics”. It would seem to have been very well read here in Dunedin.
    Also, look at who is being paid here. I certainly wasn’t paid to make my submission and felt very pissed off having my submission put off for several days, at one hour’s notice. Both the cancellation and the amended time cost me a considerable amount of time and money.
    We have had one snake oil salesman after another aided and abetted by gullible elected and unelected city officials. Really the standard of governance here in Dunedin has been very poor indeed. The city forefathers must be turning in their graves.

  4. Mike Houlahan

    Not too hot to handle, just far, far too long to fit into the paper in its entirety. We did promise in this week’s paper that Sydney’s submission would be uploaded to the Dunedin page of and that has now happened. It took a little longer than anticipated due to some production difficulties I won’t bore you with, and has been abridged, but it is there now.

    • Thanks Mike. We hear the ODT sank it without trace. They need to do better with topical articles offered to them by articulate commentators. Perhaps upper ranks of ODT want a 28-storey hotel and apartment building shafted into Dunedin’s side. Although, Julian Smith was good enough to dislike Robert Tongue and Co’s glass atrium proposed for the Town Hall.
      Keep on the trail, it all helps, D Scene!

  5. Peter

    Pathetic behaviour by the ODT to censor material they simply don’t like. If something is badly written, okay, but this is not the case here. Haven’t the editorial team got any ideals left for real journalism? Or are they just patsies?

  6. Phil

    As Grahame says, when we sit down and think about where in the world we might travel for our holidays, the very first question is not: “Where is the best hotel” ? And then we lay down our money. The destination doesn’t need to offer anything more, just a flash hotel. That’s all it takes. Apparently.

    Dunedin has some lovely features, but it will always be an afterthought on the global tourist map. That’s not a dig at Dunedin, it’s just the way that it is. We don’t have what the Gold Coast, or Queenstown has. You can get through the highlights during a cruise ship stop-over. A new hotel is going to do as much for increasing tourist numbers as the stadium did, so we can shut that argument down straight away.

  7. Russell Garbutt

    The ODT have a number of agendas and any pretence at being an independent and unbiased paper has long gone. They have proved themselves editorially to be a shameful publication.

  8. Peter

    Things, I hear, are going very badly at the ODT. They have just reduced the subscription rate to get the paper to the cost of one flat white per week. That’s cheap. They are ringing old subscribers to see if they can get them back on board.You don’t do that if the business is humming. I also understand they are going to lay off journalists……probably the good ones, not the toadies.
    If there was more verve from the top they might get somewhere, but the paper promotes on seniority and ‘loyalty’, not merit. Look what happened when Simon Cunliffe left.

  9. Rob Hamlin

    I have noted earlier that the key to understanding this hotel project is to treat it as a financial entity in order to discover who is going to make money at it how and when. As a hotel, it simply does not appear to stack up.

    The unsurprising news that the apartments will be freeholded and presumably held as part of a body corporate reveals that the majority of this thing is little more than a vertical housing estate with good views of everybody else who (unfortunately) have good views of it – It is a magnificent example of what the Americans call ‘screw you’ architecture.

    Also, as it is little more than a proposed legal entity within a proposed structure whose internal details are sketchy at best, it is highly plausible that the luxury hotel, upon which most of the developer’s claims for ‘positive economic impact’ for this community in return for its imposition depend, may rapidly shrink to vanishing point once the building is past its approval process hurdles – thus leaving it as a housing estate entire.

    However, even speculative housing estates can lose money if the specific market for them is not well understood before they are designed and constructed – especially in markets that are flat. The Irish public and those in this country who were ill advised enough invest money in finance companies on the advice of retired news readers, rugby players and cabinet ministers are well aware of this fact.

    As none of these professions specifically guarantee expertise in identifying specific housing markets and producing property developments that match their needs and for which they will pay the necessary amounts, these losses are perhaps understandable. It is a very risky business, and success is based on good market knowledge allied with either rat-cunning, careful analysis or both.

    This makes for interesting reading with regard to some recent comments from the project’s representatives about potential revenue streams for this project:

    ”There isn’t a set market we are looking at. They’re available for anybody and everybody. I’m sure there will be people throughout New Zealand and around the world who will want to buy them.” ( Accessed 20/4/2013)

    Now if I was being asked to invest $100 million in a locally stagnant real estate market on the basis of this level of freehold property buyer/market knowledge, analysis, and offers of design optimisation and targeting, then I might be tempted to think twice about it – Even if I could afford to lose the money.

    That is of course unless the actual financial mechanics and systems of investment capital return of this project are entirely different from what we have been led to believe.

    • As we know, Betterways Advisory Ltd (the Applicant) has offered nothing, I mean NOTHING, to substantiate the out-of-zone, non-complying bid for this high rise. There is no cost benefit analysis entered as a brief of evidence for the application, whatsoever.

      We are expect to believe ‘common-crookedness’ and HOT AIR.

      How the Hearings Committee chooses to handle the application in its decision will be a microscope on (like it or not, Mr Weatherall) the Dunedin City Council’s ability to (transparently and accountably) calculate impacts on the welfare of this city, its residents and investors in the cold light of day.

      The track record to date in these matters, for Dunedin City Council, is fully ABHORRENT if not a MUSHROOMING SCANDAL and LOWEST-OF-LOW CRIME against The People.

      >>> +$600 million consolidated council debt. <<<

  10. amanda

    Yes. It is funny watching the ODT. They can have articles about the city’s debt, the stadium fiscal debacle, but somehow manage to never, never mention the seven councillors who pushed for the stadium and its debt. It seems that according to the ODT the stadium debt just fell out of the sky by some unknown beings. Watch on the run up to this election how the ODT never mentions the hand of Crs Hudson, Brown, Bezett, Weatherall, Noone, Acklin in the stadium blackhole. If they are so proud of their stadium stance, we would be hearing Hudson and pals crowing about their decisions. No. The ODT is a good friend of all of these six muppets; all of them should get down on bended knee and thank Sir. Thanks to the ODT these six incompetent men will be back on council at the end of this year too. Accountability for incompetent, fiscally challenged councillors? not on the ODT’s watch.

  11. amanda

    But by golly if you dare take naughty photos of some royals, well, the ODT will fry you to hell. White collar criminals? not so much.

  12. Phil

    The fact that they have now purchased the land speaks volumes that they have already been told that consent will be granted. Up to the Environment Court now to do the right thing.

  13. gaz

    All gone pretty good for betterways although Mr rodgers comments regarding only 400 people against this hotel which was reported in the D scene makes me believe Mr Rodgers thinks we are a pretty thick lot, Honestly is he deaf to himself when he said what he said, I am really thankfull the D scene actually printed what he said
    Also would be interested to go back a couple of years to when a kiwi developer was trying to get consent for a three storey office block on this site, I believe he gave up after two years in frustration. Funny how things change

  14. Anon

    Tim Barnett gained consent for a 3 level office/apartment building but then the DCC decided that it wanted 41 Wharf St to realign SH88 and issued a Notice of Requirement. In the end I believe the Environment Court ruled in Barnett’s favour by which time the Betterways Advisory proposal was close to being on the table.

  15. gaz

    This whole thing stinks. So the DCC does a 180 deg turn around and Don Anderson is a gun for hire to the highest bidder.

  16. Dougo

    Flashback to 2010 and Don Anderson on the Harbourside plan change:
    “Mr Anderson’s 28-page report was written for the Otago Chamber of Commerce which is one of the appellants fighting the change. It was sent out to members yesterday.

    In the report, Mr Anderson describes how allowing residential use of land in an industrial area will drive businesses away and cost the city jobs.

    “It is fanciful to contemplate that the loss of industrial employment from the area will be replaced by service jobs in bars, cafes, tourism and entertainment, recreation and travellers’ accommodation.”

    • At ODT Online (a little dateline reference):

      Submitted by ej kerr on Mon, 25/03/2013 – 4:34pm.

      I should have mentioned the historic former Briscoe’s Wharf Store and Works on the corner of Birch, Wharf and Roberts Streets, was lost in a fire about a year after registration of the Historic Area. The building, then known as Japanese Auto Wreckers Ltd, was subject to arson on 2 May 2009; the case has not been solved. (ODT 7.4.10)

      The Dunedin Harbourside Plan Change was adopted in mid 2008, and switched zoning from industrial/port to harbourside to allow the development of cafes, restaurants and apartments.

      Local businesses and the Otago Chamber of Commerce appealed the plan change to the Environment Court; and set to negotiating a reduced plan which was presented to the Court for consideration in March 2012. The city council finally approved the reduced plan change on 14 May 2012.

      Interestingly, Betterways’ proposal for a $100m hotel at 41 Wharf St was launched on 11 May, at the new stadium.