City hotelier pushes ahead with proposal

The Menzies Building in central Invercargill. Photo: File

A NEW hotel is hoped to bring a boost in tourism to Invercargill, as hotelier Geoff Thomson pushes ahead with his plans to convert the old Menzies Building into a 150-room 4.5-star hotel by September 2023.

The building was bought by Thompson last year with the plan to develop it into a hotel, as well as the former Southland Frozen Meats building with plans for its development into residential accommodation for hotel staff.

WSP New Zealand planner Luke McSoriley, who is assisting Distinction Hotels with the project, spoke to the Invercargill City Council with Mr Thompson on Tuesday and asked the council to come on board to help integrate lower Esk St with the CBD to maximise benefits.

“In our view, Esk St West is badly in need of some changes and this is a really good opportunity to revitalise that part of town, and also in doing that achieve some really positive urban design outcomes.”

Mr Thomson said he had already begun marketing Invercargill’s tourism opportunities to the sale industry.

“We’re pushing like mad to get tour coaches into Invercargill, to get tourism into Invercargill.”

Addressing the council, he said ideally the hotel should have some connectivity to the CBD.

“We’ve now got the railway station being filled up, so there’s going to be a lot of people down that end of Esk St, you’re looking at a few hundred extra people that could be wandering around the CBD.”

When asked by Cr Alex Crackett what he thought the timeline for the hotel would be, Mr Thomson said they had started selling the rooms from September 2023.

“If we can get the supply chains to keep up with things, we like to think we’d be open by then. But if we aren’t, we’ll work around that at the time.”

Cr Ian Pottinger asked Mr Thompson if the escalating construction and supply costs were seen as a problem or a possible deterrent.

“I’m getting old and stupid and I’m not really worried about the cost, it’s about the outcome. So for me, if it costs me a lot more than it should and I don’t get a return, I don’t mind. This is not done in a normal business model.”

Current plans are to add an additional storey to the original Menzies Building, as well as two additional storeys at the rear wing of the building at The Crescent.