HIL­TON COMES TO TOWN

Lux­ury ho­tel pro­posed for CBD sta­dium

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

ONE of the world’s most fa­mous ho­tel brands is con­sid­er­ing build­ing a 4.5- star prop­erty within the new Townsville CBD sta­dium precinct.

Hil­ton Ho­tels has pro­posed a seven- storey lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion com­plex for Townsville af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing that the North Queens­land cap­i­tal was a “golden op­por­tu­nity” for its brand.

A mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing has been signed with Townsville City Coun­cil, which will en­able it to ne­go­ti­ate ex­clu­sively with Hil­ton and Queens­land firm Fo­cus Pa­cific Pty Ltd. The pro­posal in­cludes a 175- bed ho­tel run by the Hil­ton sub­sidiary Dou­bleTree.

Mayor Jenny Hill and Deputy Mayor Les Walker will to­day an­nounce the MOU.

ONE of the world’s most lux­u­ri­ous ho­tel brands is con­sid­er­ing open­ing a 4.5- star prop­erty within the Townsville CBD sta­dium precinct.

Hil­ton Ho­tels has pro­posed a seven- storey ac­com­mo­da­tion com­plex for Townsville af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing that the city was a “golden op­por­tu­nity” for its brand.

A mem­o­ran­dum of un­der- stand­ing has been signed with Townsville City Coun­cil, which will en­able it to ne­go­ti­ate ex­clu­sively with Hil­ton and Queens­land com­pany Fo­cus Pa­cific Pty Ltd. The pro­posal in­cludes a 175- bed ho­tel run by the Hil­ton sub­sidiary Dou­bleTree.

City lead­ers have hailed the move as a “ma­jor win” with the po­ten­tial de­velop- ment ex­pected to gen­er­ate eco­nomic stim­u­lus.

Mayor Jenny Hill and Deputy Mayor Les Walker will to­day an­nounce the MOU, which would place the ho­tel in the heart of the city’s Pri­or­ity De­vel­op­ment Area.

Cr Hill said the coun­cil had been work­ing with Hil­ton to bring the com­pany to the city.

“The MOU shows that the most fa­mous brand in the world wants to be here,” she said. “We have to do a lot more work to get the Hil­ton signed, sealed and de­liv­ered, but they are ex­cited about our plans for the PDA.”

The MOU es­tab­lishes an ex­clu­sive four- month ne­go­ti­a­tion pe­riod to en­sure the pro­posal stacks up com­mer­cially and “rep­re­sented best value for ratepay­ers”.

Hil­ton Ho­tels vice- pres­i­dent de­vel­op­ment Aus­trala­sia Rob Scullin said the com­pany saw a “golden op­por­tu­nity” to es­tab­lish a strong pres­ence in

the North as part of Townsville’s trans­for­ma­tion.

“Our com­pany’s de­ci­sions are driven by the eco­nomic per­for­mance of any city and Townsville is right on the verge of tak­ing off,” he said.

“Hil­ton Ho­tels are renowned for choos­ing qual­ity mar­quee sites and we see a great op­por­tu­nity to es­tab­lish a pre­mium ho­tel along­side the new sta­dium and in close prox­im­ity to the walk­ways, cafes, restau­rants and the en­ter­tain­ment precinct the coun­cil is plan­ning for the PDA.

“What came through very strongly in our dis­cus­sions with Jenny ( Hill) and Les ( Walker) was the po­si­tion­ing and vi­sion for the city and the pas­sion they have for Townsville.

“We see it strate­gi­cally im­por­tant to have a pres­ence in Townsville as the cap­i­tal for the North and a city that is go­ing places.”

Cr Walker said at­tract­ing a lux­ury ho­tel group to Townsville had been high on the coun­cil’s agenda.

“Ev­ery­one knows the Hil­ton name and hav­ing them here in the city right be­side the new sta­dium in a world­class precinct is an ex­cit­ing prospect,” he said.

“A Hil­ton Ho­tel would gen­er­ate a huge amount of in­ter­est. Busi­ness peo­ple make judg­ments on our city and hav­ing a Hil­ton will do won­ders for our sta­tus.”

Townsville- born Fo­cus Pa­cific CEO Michael Gra­ham, whose com­pany has a pre­ferred de­vel­oper agree­ment with Hil­ton Ho­tels, said the city’s PDA plan would at­tract in­creas­ing in­vestor in­ter­est.

“None of this would be hap­pen­ing with­out the strate­gic think­ing by the city and the plans for the in­ner- city re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion,” he said. “We have been blown away at the work that is be­ing done and the in­no­va­tions the city is look­ing at.

“Townsville pro­vides us with a great op­por­tu­nity to di­ver­sify our in­vest­ments.

“Our in­ten­tion if we pro­ceed is to de­liver the project in time for the open­ing of the new sta­dium in 2020.

“To meet that sort of con­struc­tion time frame, we will need to make a de­ci­sion as soon as pos­si­ble within the four- month ne­go­ti­a­tion pe­riod of the MOU.”

OUR COM­PANY’S DE­CI­SIONS ARE DRIVEN BY THE ECO­NOMIC PER­FOR­MANCE OF ANY CITY AND TOWNSVILLE IS RIGHT ON THE VERGE OF TAK­ING OFF HIL­TON HO­TELS’ ROB SCULLIN

Hil­ton’s de­ci­sion to con­sider build­ing one of its in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned fa­cil­i­ties here is a huge vote of con­fi­dence for Townsville. The mar­quee brand has cho­sen the city as a po­ten­tial lo­ca­tion for a 4.5- star, sev­en­storey lux­ury ho­tel that would sit right next to the North Queens­land Sta­dium.

While some lo­cal busi­nesses still lack con­fi­dence, Hil­ton’s call is a sign the times are turn­ing.

It is only in its pre­lim­i­nary plan­ning stage, but this pro­posal may mo­ti­vate other in­vestors to look no fur­ther than Townsville.

The 175- bed ho­tel would not only add a level of lux­ury to Townsville but it would bring a brand that has a renowned rep­u­ta­tion for class around the world.

The ho­tel’s prox­im­ity to the sta­dium could also help to at­tract larger events that would es­tab­lish the city as an even stronger world- class tourism des­ti­na­tion.

The sta­dium doesn’t need to just be home to Cow­boys games.

It could be home to a State of Ori­gin match or host huge in­ter­na­tional mu­si­cians with au­di­ences only hav­ing to walk just down the road to sleep.

How­ever, while glossy con­cept de­signs of a ho­tel have been pro­vided, the Hil­ton pro­posal is yet an­other con­cept that’s be­ing added to the list of po­ten­tial de­vel­op­ments that Townsville could se­cure.

It has merely em­pha­sised the rel­e­vance of the Pure Projects re­port which out­lined the need for a CBD re­ju­ve­na­tion.

What the re­gion is long­ing to see are tan­gi­ble re­sults that pro­vide a boost to the econ­omy and cre­ate much- needed jobs. And as ex­cit­ing as this an­nounce­ment is, it does the re­gion no good just sit­ting in a back­log of pa­per­work gath­er­ing dust.

The re­gion con­stantly hears about how beau­ti­ful it is and what po­ten­tial it has but res­i­dents are still wait­ing for the pass­ing of what seems like count­less fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies.

They are look­ing for sods to be turned and com­pa­nies to start of­fer­ing jobs. So, the time to act is now. The coun­cil needs to get a win on the board.

STAY AND PLAY: An artists’ im­pres­sion of the Dou­bleTree ho­tel mooted for the sta­dium site.

WORLD PLAYER: Con­cept de­signs of lux­ury brand Hil­ton Ho­tels’ pro­posal for Townsville’s CBD sta­dium precinct.

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