Plans to reopen Sammy's soon

Trevor Tilyard
Trevor Tilyard
Dunedin nightspot Sammy's is on the road to revival, just weeks after being condemned as a potential deathtrap and ordered to close.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Trevor Tilyard, of Dunedin, yesterday said he would be happy to see the popular live music venue reopen - albeit with a limited crowd capacity - once it was confirmed a new fire evacuation plan was in place and the fire exits were clear.

The measures would have to be verified by a Fire Service inspection, and even then the maximum crowd would be restricted to "about 200 people", he said.

Sammy's was closed by the Dunedin City Council on March 19, based on Fire Service advice the building was not safe for public use.

Sammy's managing director, Sam Carroll, had met Mr Tilyard to discuss what had to be done at the venue and hoped eventually to increase the capacity to about 700 once more, Mr Tilyard said.

However, opening the building to crowds of that size would be permitted only once an automated fire alarm system was installed and approved by the Fire Service and Dunedin City Council, he said.

"They have got a few hurdles to clear yet."

Mr Carroll could not be contacted yesterday, but his venue's brightly illuminated sign has remained switched on since the closure as an indication of his desire to reopen the venue.

Sam Chin, of Dunedin, said it was his intention to see the venue reopen, hopefully within weeks.

His family, who share ownership of the building, met on Sunday to discuss its future, and had agreed to fund work to meet fire safety requirements, he said.

"Now the shock of it is all over, we will just have to put things in place and get the place up and running.

"My family has got the money ... we will pay for it. We want it to carry on," he said.

Mr Carroll was obtaining quotes for the alarm systems, but it was too soon to say what the upgrade would cost, Mr Chin said.

Last week, he estimated it could cost up to $30,000.

Asked if the reopening would be months away, Mr Chin yesterday said: "Hopefully, before that."

He would not say if he, as landlord, had lost money while Sammy's was closed: "I haven't checked the bank, actually."

Council chief building control officer Neil McLeod said new fire alarm systems would have to be approved by the council, and a building consent costing $190 issued, before the "notice to fix" was withdrawn.

Mr Tilyard said there was no timeline for the work to be completed, but he had been impressed by Mr Carroll's response to the concerns raised about the building's safety.

"It couldn't have carried on operating the way it was.

"It was just downright dangerous.

"After their initial shock, while we haven't spoken to Mr Chin, the people we have spoken to have responded in a positive manner to get things sorted."


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