Published: 10th August 2021
In 2015 Hutt City Council entered into a commercial arrangement with USAR Ltd, which bundled the operation of the new Events Centre with the construction of a 60-room hotel at the southern end of High Street. For Council, this involved purchasing the original land for the hotel, and underwriting the operation of the Events Centre for the first two years of operating (this expired at 30 June 2020).
USAR Ltd has for some time been seeking to revise the original contract with Council, particularly in the face of COVID-19 and the impact that has had on the events and accommodation sector.
The revised agreement requires USAR to continue to operate the Events Centre fully resourced and professionally managed to at least 30 July 2027 and complete the Sebel Hotel by 31 December 2021 at its own cost and operate it, in conjunction with the Events Centre through to at least 30 June 2027.
Hutt City Council Chief Executive Jo Miller says the revised agreement is positive news for Lower Hutt.
“Since it has been operating, the Events Centre has secured new events for Lower Hutt, many of which have re-confirmed future bookings in the centre, such as national expos, dance competitions, gala dinners, conferences, performances, and weddings,” says Jo Miller.
“The Events Centre has also achieved a 5 Star Qualmark rating which certifies that the venue is amongst the best in New Zealand.”
“Together they will make an important economic contribution to Lower Hutt by employing many people and increasing the number of shoppers and foot-traffic, as well as providing quality accommodation for people, businesses and other visitors to the city.”
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry has welcomed the conclusion of these negotiations.
“USAR have received a significant public subsidy, and Council’s expectation was that in return they follow through on their original commitment of building and operating a hotel in conjunction with the event centre,” Campbell Barry says.
“The revised agreement provides no further public subsidy to USAR, which was a bottom line for the current Council and for the ratepayers we represent.” Campbell Barry says.
Mayor Barry supports the transparent approach Council is taking after reaching this revised agreement.
“Previously, most aspects of the commercial arrangement with USAR Ltd were withheld on grounds of confidentiality. This was not acceptable given the large amount of ratepayer money involved. That’s why with the revised agreement, we have published all the information following negotiations.”
“While my views on decisions in the past on this matter are well documented, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are looking forward to seeing the hotel finally completed,” Campbell Barry says.
Information on the revised agreement can be found here