Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Hilton catfight

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.


At 2:52 pm, September 26, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's true, last time I was in Welly that part of the waterfront was mostly just cold and deserted. The Hilton in Auckland is basically ready-made (and wealthy) nightlife for the Viaduct - and it looks cool!

At 12:49 pm, September 27, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool, yes. But I still think one of its downfalls is the narrow field of consumers it appeals to.

At 1:05 pm, September 27, 2005, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, it will be a fairly narrow section of society who could actually eat or drink there, at least with any regularity. But as long as they don't put up a gate and stop others from walking around the boardwalks, I don't have a problem with that.

Besides, why do some people think it's okay for a waterfront business to charge $12 for rock climbing, but see it as elitist to charge the same for a nice glass of wine? And not all the dining venues in 5-star hotels are exclusive: Arizona is part of the Intercontinental, yet it has relatively broad appeal.

At 4:24 pm, September 28, 2005, Blogger Kate Borrell said...

Right on Tom!


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