As expected, the proposed waterfront Hilton has attracted some opposition in the letters pages. I've just rattled off a response to one of them:
Grahame Anderson (September 24) opposes the Queens Wharf Hilton for allegedly privatising a public space. I walked around Shed 1 the other afternoon, and the doors were locked. And when it is in use, I wouldn't exactly be welcome walking through the middle of a soccer game. How is this a "public space"?
Anderson also claims that a hotel would "colonise" the surrounding areas. I suppose one could claim that Astoria, the Brewery Bar and Plum also "colonise" Midland Park, Taranaki Wharf and Cuba Mall respectively, but anyone with an appreciation of urban vitality would choose a different verb: "enliven". Which is more than you can say for Shed 1.
Wellington lacks high-quality hotels, and if the Hilton's bar and restaurant are as good as Auckland's Bellini and White, they will be a welcome addition to our dining scene. Sure, not everyone could afford to eat or drink there, but the same applies to Shed 5, and that doesn't stop people strolling past or eating their sandwiches beside it.
The Hilton would take nothing away from the public, but it will fill a gap in our hospitality market while bringing 24-hour life to an often-deserted part of the city.
And yes, the title is a shameless attempt to increase search engine traffic.
Update: this was published in the Dominion Post on Monday the 3rd of October.