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Council prefers Orion site for new Civic Offices

4 August 2006

The Orion site in central Christchurch is the City Council’s preferred option for a new headquarters.

Mayor Garry Moore says the site is a large one and offers scope to create an appropriate civic centre. Its location, in the east of the central city, will also contribute to a council goal of working to revitalise the blocks from the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology up to and around Latimer Square.

“It’s very pleasing that the council has settled on this site,” Mr Moore says. “It has three street frontages and with the Centennial Pool north across Armagh there’s an opportunity to provide a strong linkage to the Avon River. It’s a sound choice and I’m looking forward to seeing the preliminary design ideas when they come through.”

Through Christchurch City Holdings Ltd, the city council has an 89.275 per cent holding in the electricity network management company Orion New Zealand Ltd. The remaining shares belong to Selwyn District Council and a transparent transaction relating to the site acquisition will be arranged to ensure fairness to all shareholders.

Orion’s board had previously indicated that it is prepared to work with the council in redeveloping its site on the western end of the block bounded by Armagh, Manchester and Gloucester streets, including where the council’s existing car park stands on the corner of Manchester and Gloucester streets.

Councillors have asked staff to consider linkages between the site and the Centennial Pool land when considering development options.

A new central city office for about 1000 of the council’s staff is needed because the current Tuam Street centre, built as a department store in the 1930s, is fast approaching the end of its life as suitable office accommodation. The Council has for some time directed that nothing but necessary maintenance be done on it.

In February the council looked at ownership options for new premises and decided it preferred an arrangement where the new building would be developed and owned by a council-controlled company and leased back to the council.

Last year, the council called for registrations of interest from landowners who believed their properties would suit the Council’s purposes. The Orion site was one of these.

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