New hotels, fewer emergency housing motels ahead for Hamilton

No vacancy signs outside motels have been a common sight along Hamilton's Ulster St, but an accommodation boost is signaled (file photo).

Christel Yardley/Stuff

No vacancy signs outside motels have been a common sight along Hamilton’s Ulster St, but an accommodation boost is signaled (file photo).

Two new hotels are in the works as Hamilton’s event calendar ramps up, and there’s work on local motels being phased out of emergency housing.

This follows years of talk about possible new high-end accommodation offerings for the city and reported accommodation shortages during major events such as the sevens and Fieldayswith social housing contributing to the challenge.

Hamilton has missed out on “big-ticket concerts and conferences” because of a hotel room shortage, according to a city council boss – but two CBD hotel projects with a combined 169 rooms have been approved.

And a lack of accommodation could be why the HSBC NZ Sevens tournament didn’t sell outWaikato Motel Association president Narinder Sagoo has said.

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“That is a direct result of the shortage of accommodation because of social housing.”

Mayor Paula Southgate said Hamilton can host and has been chosen for big events, but more places to stay could mean “bigger and better” events.

Emergency housing grants were introduced in 2016 as a way to shelter the country’s most vulnerable on a short term or transitional basis.

Streets lined with motels, like Ulster St in central Hamilton, had become known for crime and poor behavior.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

Streets lined with motels, like Ulster St in central Hamilton, had become known for crime and poor behavior.

But with more than 24,000 people sitting on the housing register as of September, according to Ministry of Social Development figures, the number of people without a place to live had surged.

Motels were packed with people in need, and Hamilton had 720 “households” in emergency housing dotted throughout the city.

Streets lined with motels once frequented by tourists and visitors had become known for crime and poor behavior.

Sagoo said on Ulster St – the heart of central Hamilton’s emergency housing network – there were only six motels taking guests for the Sevens – compared to the 19 filled with social housing clients.

Hamilton City Council has granted resource consent to two hotel projects with a combined 169 rooms, deputy chief executive Sean Murray said.

Kelly Hodel/Stuff

Hamilton City Council has granted resource consent to two hotel projects with a combined 169 rooms, deputy chief executive Sean Murray said.

Tourism was suffering because of this, and he was concerned about future events and where people would stay.

The next thing on the city’s events schedule was February’s inaugural Play-off Tournament ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Hamilton will host five World Cup games, with teams from Sweden, Norway, Argentina, Zambia, Vietnam, Japan, Switzerland and Costa Rica in July and August.

Mayor Paula Southgate said Hamilton was chosen to host big events because the organizers felt the city had “sufficient facilities”.

Hamilton can host and has been chosen for big events, mayor Paula Southgate said, but she acknowledged the need for more accommodation.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

Hamilton can host and has been chosen for big events, mayor Paula Southgate said, but she acknowledged the need for more accommodation.

She said FIFA had done lots of research into the cities chosen to host the games and accommodation capacity was considered.

She “wasn’t too concerned” but acknowledged the need for more accommodation.

“The more accommodation, the bigger and better the events we can host.”

Hamilton was only a “skip, hop, and jump” from Auckland now with the new expressway, which would help, she said.

There was also good stock of Airbnb accommodationshe said.

Southgate said she had been working with the government to phase the city’s motels out of emergency housing and she believed four motels would be returning to normal business within six months.

“I don’t know the details, but are working on when and how that will come about.”

One of the approved hotel projects is for Hood Street, pictured, and another for Ward Street (file photo).

Christel Yardley/Stuff

One of the approved hotel projects is for Hood Street, pictured, and another for Ward Street (file photo).

Hamilton City Council has granted resource consent to two hotel projects – a 100-room hotel at 42 Ward Street and a 69-room hotel on Hood Street – deputy chief executive Sean Murray said.

“Hamilton does miss out on big-ticket concerts and conferences because we simply don’t have enough hotel rooms in the city.”

The council was currently in discussions with developers about potential opportunities to develop new hotel offerings in Hamilton, he said.

FIFA declined to comment.

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