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The Dunedin City Council has approved the demolition of the existing buildings at the corner of King Edward St and Macandrew Rd in order to build a single-storey, purpose-built facility.
It is hoped demolition can start about the middle of this year. It is expected to open in the 2023-24 financial year.
Council community services general manager Simon Pickford said the new building would contain a library and customer service space, meeting rooms, provision for a cafe, creative space, an IT learning centre and a recording studio.
An atrium area would provide a space to gather and could be used as an informal performance/event space.
The council announced in March 2019 it had bought the King Edward St-Macandrew Rd site.
Originally, a new build had been deemed too expensive, but once the council took over the buildings when major tenants moved out last year, it became clear a significant amount of work was needed.
Mr Pickford said the council bought the site because the location matched many of the community’s requirements.
"We knew there would be issues with the buildings and were aware they contained asbestos, as many older buildings do.
"However, when we took over the buildings when major tenants moved out last year, it became clear that the extent and cost of issues such as removal of asbestos was much greater than expected.
"Extensive building compliance work, including additional seismic strengthening, would also have been needed before any of the buildings could be reused."
The cost of reusing the existing buildings would be more than 50% higher than a new building.
Instead, $11.56 million had been included in the draft 2021-31 plan budgets to construct a new building.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said thanks to the work done so far, the council knew it could deliver the South Dunedin Library and Community Complex faster, and at a reduced cost, by constructing new buildings rather than remodelling the old ones.
"This will be a special facility for locals and visitors alike, and anything we can do to have the facility open as soon as possible has the full support of council.”
The new complex would include space for tenants.
Mr Pickford said staff had kept current tenants updated on the project and were working to help them relocate.
Constructing a new building would bring a range of benefits, including providing more scope for sustainable design and energy efficiency, potentially having lower running and maintenance costs, being more resilient in an earthquake and having a longer life than repurposed buildings, he said.
The new complex would be designed and built to minimise the risk of flooding.
The lease for the temporary library and community facility in the Cargill Enterprises building in Hillside Road had been extended until June 30, 2022.
An application to extend it further could be made, or other alternatives considered, closer to the time.
The council approved the new build option at a meeting late last year.
For commercial reasons, the decision was made during the confidential part of the meeting but is now able to be made public.