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Site of new Civic building chosen

11 October 2007

Christchurch City Council has chosen the NZ Post building in Hereford Street as its preferred site for the new Civic Building.

The selected site will be developed by a joint venture company Tuam2 Ltd, a company 50% owned by Council and 50% owned by Ngai Tahu Property Ltd. The joint venture company will be responsible for developing the new building as well as its ownership. Each partner will contribute $52.5 million to the redevelopment of the building’s $105 million capital cost. The building, designed for 1000 staff, will be completed in mid-2010.

The $52.5 million cost to the Council is well under the $100 million the Council budgeted for a new Civic Building, Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore said.

Ngai Tahu is a strong partner for the Council and the joint venture means that Ngai Tahu will meet half the costs of the development and will own half the completed building.

The concept design, by Ian Athfield of Athfield Architects, includes a Civic Boulevard at street level that will run through from Worcester Boulevard to Hereford Street, and join a proposed walkway through Ngāi Tahu’s King Edward Barracks site and link with City Mall by the Bridge of Remembrance.

Once built, the building will be leased to the Council at an initial rental of $7.5 million plus GST and outgoings from 2010 which is below that already factored into the Council’s 2006-16 Long Term Council Community Plan for that year.

Garry Moore says he is delighted to be announcing progress on the new Civic Building at the end of his nine-year term as Mayor.

“It is appropriate that this Council, already committed to the new Civic Building, makes a decision on the site,” he said.

Mark Solomon, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere (Chairman) said: “We are delighted to have been selected to partner the Christchurch City Council on this important building for the city. The Council and Ngāi Tahu are both here for the long-haul and have an aligned vision for the city.

“We congratulate the Councillors on their foresight in moving into the field public-private partnerships which will reduce their costs and benefit ratepayers. The joint venture is groundbreaking and sets the standard for the rest of New Zealand.”

Vbase which is responsible for advising Council on the new building project and its site selection, briefed councillors today (Thursday) on the short-listed site after a selection process which included Registrations of Interest from inner city landowners earlier this year. Vbase Chief Executive Bryan Pearson said he was delighted to be working with Ngai Tahu Property Limited as a joint venture partner on the project. After the briefing councillors felt they had sufficient information to confirm their preferred site.

“This site will make a wonderful front door to the city. The proposal which involves the significant refurbishment of an existing building with considerable environmental benefits, is best suited to the city’s needs and meets all the Council’s terms of reference,” Mr Moore said.

“As a Council we are committed to revitalising the central city. The new Civic Building will form part of the city’s Cultural Precinct, is close to one of the city’s natural assets, the Avon River and will provide easy access for the public.

“At the same time a building that has become a bit of an eyesore will become a vital and attractive focal point.”

Mr Moore said the decision for a new Civic Building was not made lightly. “The present offices in Tuam Street are cramped and poorly ventilated. The building leaks and much needed maintenance is extremely expensive. Staff are also working from various locations throughout the Central Business District which is inefficient,” he said.

Council began looking at options to upgrade and enlarge the present building in 2000. After expert advice from consultants, councillors decided it was a waste of ratepayers’ money to invest further in the present building.

A new functional fit-for-purpose Civic Building is the most cost-effective solution, Mr Moore said.

The new Civic Building will be designed as an A grade building to engender a sense of civic pride. Although the brief calls for a 4.5 Green Star building, subject to further design development this will be a 5 Green Star-rated building meaning it meets very high set environmental and sustainability standards.

Mr Moore said Council would be honest and transparent with ratepayers about the cost of the new building and their commitment to it.

“Obviously it will impact on rates when Council assumes occupancy in 2010. But there will always be a cost to accommodating our staff and this is the most cost effective option. The Council needs to be a good employer. It is unacceptable to ask our staff to continue working in a building that risks their health and safety,” he said.


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