Town hall plan wins approval

An artist's drawing of the planned cube.
An artist's drawing of the planned cube.
Plans for a $45 million revamp of the Dunedin Town Hall and Dunedin Centre, with a centrepiece cube-shaped glass entrance, received almost unanimous support from the Dunedin City Council yesterday.

A full council meeting voted in favour of the revised proposal, despite the last-minute arguments of Cr Neil Collins, who believed the project should be "parked".

The project was announced last Wednesday, after six years of debate.

The latest design follows public consultation that heard opposition to a previous design that included an atrium over Harrop St.

Cr Collins told the meeting he would support the project once the decision was made, but still believed its cost - between $45 million and $47 million - meant it should be reconsidered.

He believed the project was one that could be deferred for a few years, to ease the financial burden at a time of economic recession.

"This is a big-ticket item - a really big-ticket item.

"With so much money involved at this time, this is one project which could well have been parked for a few years, and come back to," Cr Collins said.

He also questioned the "visually unattractive" design for the town-hall redevelopment, arguing there were "better opportunities for this amount of money for the city".

The cost of the project had risen from as little as $7 million when first suggested, to at least $45 million now, he said.

Another option was to find a new home for the city's central library, and use the old library building as a conference centre, he said.

Supporting the proposal, Kate Wilson said: "I think it's going to be a huge asset for the city."

Cr Chris Staynes said his only concerns were ratepayers' ability to fund it.

He had asked whether the project could be done in stages, so safety work required by government legislation could be done first, and the rebuilding of the Glenroy Auditorium later, to save money.

He had been assured, however, that was not possible, and would end up costing more.

Cr Staynes also noted with the stadium under way, and the council facing the essential town hall work, the result "perhaps" would be unaffordable for some ratepayers.

Cr Bill Acklin said the design would not affect the building's facade, a clear wish of the community.

"That has been achieved," he said.

Cr Fliss Butcher said it was a "really exciting project" that demonstrated the council's commitment to the city's heritage, and had the support of many ratepayers.

"Let's just get on with it," she said.

The meeting voted to approve the plan and endorse a timetable that involved seeking tenders for construction by the end of the year.

Cr Collins voted against, and Cr Paul Hudson abstained.


The project

Town hall: Existing entrance removed and replaced with cube-shaped glass entrance, refurbished or replaced seating in auditorium, safety work for fire and other regulations, infrastructure overhaul, air conditioning.

Dunedin Centre: Extended into Municipal Chambers to add space.

Glenroy Auditorium: Gutted and retro-fitted, new lifts, stairs, performance and conference areas, movable stage, air conditioning.

Harrop St: Car-park area to be turned into public space, street closed to through traffic, taxi waiting area to move to upper Stuart St.

Budget: Within $45 million.

Timing: Expected to begin early next year and hoped to be finished within two years.

If intelligence and postive thinking was applied

Not sure what this subject has to do with being eco friendly, but instead of wasting money on a glass cube, how about working public transport, since Dunedin's is woefully lacking. It was better in the 70s, trolley buses (which the DCC were bent on getting rid of - and did.) We had suburban trains as well.

Now, our population has increased, but, look at the bus service. If we are really going to start talking about intelligent positive thinking and enviro frindly, what about more cycle tracks? Dunedin got rated as the most cyclist unfriendly city in NZ (and is even worse compared to Europe. This is reflected by the few cyclists seen about, myself one of the few.

The original single track Caversham rail tunnel has been mooted for doing up and would open up all the southerm suburbs for cyclists. But the council seemed to think the $750 000 spent on that was too much, while a few extra million here and there for a flaming stadium, and now a glass cube, never a problem.

Thats a glaring fact, not "anti council misinformation." I do realise some money is being spent on the hall itself, and was mentioned in my last post, by the way, I give them points for that.

Cable cars re-instated up High St would not only create an iconic attraction, but a clean practical one as well, for all to use. A somewhat better use for a few million.

Hang on a minute, 'Dunners'!

'Dunners', old-son, have you ever stopped to think what a world devoid of hydrocarbon-based products is going to be like, or is your thinking limited to which gas-guzzler you would like to buy to replace your present transport. Most people think that way, and I am constantly reminded by 'experts' that ever-so-clever mankind will have the matter well in-hand, long before the last oil-well runs dry. Well, they've been at it for long enough, your 'experts', and they have come up with spectacularly bugger-all, so far.
The future calls for successful solving of an equation, which balances land-use for growing the base materials for biofuels, against an almost exponentially expanding world population and its need not to starve. Biofuels are part of the answer, but a comparatively minor part. For a time, coal will provide the basis of our chemicals, plastics, detergents etc. but, without renewable sources, these too will give-out in the end. Just consider, a world without plastics, detergents, lubricants, industrial chemicals, fuels, all the things which the availability of cheap oil has made possible for the last 100 years, suddenly cut-off at the source as world supplies become ever more expensive, and then finally give-out.
Well, bloody good luck to you if you think you will still be flying cheaply into Queenstown then, but much better minds than yours, or mine, think otherwise and I'd be inclined to side with them on this one.
'Beam me up Scotty!'

More amusing than unpopular

"I don't expect these predictions to be popular" I don't expect them to be realised. The Queenstown prediction alone is laughable. While you sit there and lament that which has not yet happened, others with far more intelligence and positive thinking are putting their minds as to how these issues around non-renewable resources can be addressed now and in the future. It is the human way thank goodness.

Expensive glass

More statements of misinformation from the usual anti-Council sources. "When the Council states that its glass extensions to the Town Hall are to cost $45m". The article provides a brief outline of what the entire 45m project entails, the glass frontage being only one small part of it. Most of the cost will be inside the complex, covering a wide range of safety and other changes and improvements. Whether the glass frontage is nice or not is a matter of opinion (personally I do not like it much), but lets keep to the facts as much as possible shall we.

Hang on a minute Lanternfish!

Lanternfish, you ask what is $45m, or 1/5 (compared with $198m), for a guaranteed return on investment?
Well, I'm happy to furnish the answer; it's $45m 'on top of' the $198m already being wasted on the foreshore, and that is beside the fact that the cost of the stadium has long since exceeded $198m, and 'you ain't seen nuthin yet', as will become obvious when the poultry really comes-home-to-roost.
Additionally, what is 'guaranteed' about the return? At present, the world financial turmoil has lowered the cost of fuel, (and hence travel), somewhat. The return of more demand will put the price of hydrocarbon-based propulsion beyond firstly, people like me, then those of much greater affluence, then finally everyone.
In those days, there will be no 'conferences' to host, and in-fact no 'conferences' at all, except small, localised affairs, or those conducted 'on-line' and I suspect that time is much closer than many of us suspect, or world governments are prepared to let-on. Let's just say, that those who are currently studying 'Tourism' at University, will have to return there, at some stage later in their working lives and re-educate in some new, and less ephemeral, field-of-endeavour as the cost of travel kills the industry off.
I'm picking a return to sea-travel, possibly by some new super-technology form of wind, or solar-based propulsion(s), because, by that time, these will likely be the only energy sources that mankind has not plundered to extinction. I also predict that in time, the 'Rail-Trail to Central' will have to be reinstated to its original function and moderised, (or an alternative route found), and Queenstown, as far from the sea, (and henceforth International Travel), as it is possible to be by then, will shrink back to the size, (population 700), that it was in the 1950's, (when it was still a worthwhile place to visit), due to its inaccessibility. I don't expect these predictions to be popular, but at least, we'll be able to hark back to the present time as the 'Good Old Days'.

'Within $45m..........Yeah Right'

When the Council states that its glass extensions to the Town Hall are to cost $45m, is this the currency which the rest of us have to make do with in our daily lives, or the hyper-inflating 'monopoly money' which they transform our rates into? Using the runaway cost of the stadium since we were promised hand-on-heart that it would only cost $188m, (by people who knew very well it wouldn't), as a basis; by my reckoning, the tacky glass extensions to the Town Hall, will come in at just under $52m..........'and counting', as they say.

Their love of rancid glass and steel

And putting such an entrance in front of a heritage building? Glad to note Cr Neil Collins opposed it, sad to note two of the stadium opposers praised it. How on earth can this be a 'commitment to the city's heritage?' (excepting restoration work on the hall, some points there). And another $45 million...

Cr Collins' comments

Clearly Cr Collins hasn't taken much interest in the conference centre re-revelopment, as my understanding is that this project has been on the Council's agenda for nearly a decade. As for its cost, from the information that is available on the true cost benefits to Dunedin, the re-developed conference centre stands head and shoulders above the Forsyth Barr Stadium in terms of return to the city. Cr Collins didn't seem to have too much trouble spending $198 million, so what is a paltry $45 million, or 1/5th for a guaranteed return on investment.

Glenroy entrance needs rethinking

The cube looks OK, but why the new glass canopy above the Glenroy entrance on Harrop Street? There's a very nice verandah there already, in-keeping with the archicture. Its removal will leave nasty scars on the facade, add cost to the project, and probably become grubby-looking (I can think of other examples around town where you look up to see dirty glass). The alterations will date, so the new/old contrast won't always look so modern. I expect the benefits of the cube will be worth the visual trade-off from Moray Place, but the new canopy around the side will be an unnecessary exercise in uglification. Get rid of it and this plan might be a winner.