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It was one of four options for a mid-sized theatre explored in the Dunedin performing arts feasibility study report, commissioned by the Dunedin City Council and Creative New Zealand following the closure of the Fortune Theatre in 2018.
However, Sammy’s was ruled out as it was not the most viable option, the report deemed.
About $19 million would be required to work on the base structure of the building and take it to a shell, it said.
A further $19 million would be needed for a specialist theatre fit-out because of the relatively large size of the auditorium.
While it was advantageous the council owned the building, Oakwood Properties owned the land Sammy was on, the report said.
Other disadvantages noted were that the footprint of the Sammy’s building would only allow a basic back-of-house and constrained front-of-house, and options for food and beverage provision were limited.
The site was also some distance from the central city bus hub and restoration of a heritage building would involve risk to the capital project, the report said.
Dunedin City Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said its focus to date had been on considering the Sammy’s building as a potential home for a new theatre.
"Now that councillors have decided this is not their preferred site for such a facility, we will explore other options for the building."
To date, the council had spent about $77,000 on a variety of costs, including roof repairs, electrical work, fire safety, security and rates.
The council’s draft 10-year plan included an allocation of $4.8 million for the Sammy’s building, which could be utilised for any of the options, the report said.
"This is in addition to funding in the draft budget for a mid-sized theatre development", Mr Pickford said.
While the building was not deemed the most viable option, the decision to purchase the heritage building in 2017 protected a piece of Dunedin history and a building in the Warehouse Precinct, he said.
A cost of about $22.5 million was estimated to develop the former Fortune Theatre building but its inadequate size, lack of accessibility, inadequate toilets and staff space saw ruled it out.
While redeveloping the Mayfair Theatre also carried a higher cost of about $33 million, the report noted it would support efforts to regenerate South Dunedin and would be a boost for businesses in the area.
It was listed as an alternative option to the preferred choice, the Athenaeum building, which would cost about $17 million to develop.
The 10-year plan, and budget for the theatre, would be subject to public consultation and further council deliberations, which will begin in late March.