Plans for ORC's central city HQ finalised

The former central Dunedin Warehouse building, which will be the new headquarters for the Otago...
The former central Dunedin Warehouse building, which will be the new headquarters for the Otago Regional Council. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The Otago Regional Council (ORC) has finalised redevelopment plans for its new headquarters on the former central Dunedin Warehouse site on Maclaggan St.

It will be known as the Whare Rūnaka (council house).

During the ORC’s first meeting for 2023 yesterday, councillors voted on accepting Port Otago’s offer to move to construction of the Whare Rūnaka project.

Port Otago is 100%-owned by the ORC.

The Birch St/Kitchener St site that was previously earmarked for the new ORC building has been sold to Port Otago for $7.9 million, which will go towards the fit-out of the Maclaggan St building.

The Warehouse store was closed to the public in 2020 and bought by Port Otago a year later.

ORC Interim Chief Executive Pim Borren said the redevelopment would have long-term benefits for the region.

“The building is an important step together with the decisions made three years ago in increasing the investment in our Regional Council to ensure we’re fit for purpose and can achieve the ambitious work programme in front of us.”

An impression of the redeveloped building. Supplied: ORC
An impression of the redeveloped building. Supplied: ORC
“Currently our team of more than 300 staff are spread across multiple sites in the city in three different temporary offices, which is less than ideal,” Dr Borren said.

Port Otago Chief Executive Kevin Winders said the building redevelopment would use much of the infrastructure on the site "to create a modern work environment which would cost considerably less than new-build options".

“We’re pleased this solution has been approved by council.

"Several options were considered over the past 18 years. This option will create a modern workspace for council staff at lower cost and lower risk to the ORC and ratepayers, and will help revitalise this area of our city,” Winders said.

The Whare Rūnaka was a priority in ORC’s Long-Term Plan 2021-2031, which has a commitment to relocate its Dunedin staff to a single head office site within the first three years of the plan.

Dr Borren says delivering on this commitment will not have any impact on rates that was not already anticipated in the current long term plan.

The cost to Port Otago to redevelop the Maclaggan St building has increased from an estimated $38m in 2021, to $45m.

The cost to the ORC of leasing the new premises has risen by $339,000 to $2.59m per year.

The agreement with Port Otago is for a 40-year lease; initially for 20-years then two 10-year right-of-renewals. Construction is expected to be completed Christmas 2024.