Councillors unaware of hotel bid

When Buddy Mikaere went along to Tauranga City Council to ask what was happening to the hotel bid he and partners are making on the 82-98 Devonport road block, he was shocked to discover many councillors were unaware there is even a bid on the table.

Representing the Otamataha Trust and the Safari Group, Buddy told councillors they made an offer in June 2016 to develop the block with an 80 bed boutique hotel, 40-55 residential apartments, car parking and possible retail, with public space and access to the Strand extension.

They have heard nothing back from council.

“We understood council were undertaking a commercial valuation of the site, but we have heard nothing back from this,” says Buddy.

“From where we are sitting, it looks like what actually is needed is for the council to make a decision whether that sale is going to go ahead and if so, to take it to market.”

The Otamataha Trust is partnered with the developer Safari Group which is behind the Wyndham brand in New Zealand, and also the Ramada and Quest brands.

Speaking afterwards, Buddy says he's shocked and amazed that councillors have not been made aware of the offer.

 “I can't believe it.  We have been dealing with the responsible staff for over a year, and it hasn't gone past them to the council.

“You can describe me as being disappointed.”

Buddy completed his address at the council meeting's open forum saying the Safari Group also made an offer for the council property in Durham Street.

“And I think they are just getting to the point where they think they are wasting their time in Tauranga,' says Buddy.

The Devonport development would be worth anywhere from $80-$150 million, depending on the final outcome, whether there is an agreement with council over public space, how much retail would be involved.

Mayor Greg Brownless says he, and maybe the new councillors, were unaware of the bid.

“It's probably taken us a bit by surprise, and on that basis we will have to look into it further,” says Greg.

Gail McIntosh says she was on the working group working with the previous consortium interested in the site and had never heard of the Otamatata/Safari proposal.

It was a shock to all of them, says Councillor Leanne Brown.

The offer made June 2016 was looking for a negotiated rate with development contributions discounted for ten years and rates deferred for five years.

The price would be negotiated to enable the open space to be built by the developer, but later vested with the council.

Safari was ready to go last year when the offer was made, says Buddy. The group's current commitments in New Zealand amount to $220m worth – all sourced within the Safari Group.

The Albany development has just been completed so construction in Tauranga could start in a fairly short time.