Sammy’s ruled out as theatre site

Sammy’s, the former His Majesty’s Theatre, has been ruled out as a new theatre for the city, due...
Sammy’s, the former His Majesty’s Theatre, has been ruled out as a new theatre for the city, due to redevelopment costs. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Redevelopment costs of $38 million have excluded historic Dunedin venue Sammy’s as a potential new theatre.

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.

emma.perry@odt.co.nz


 

Comments

Sammy's, another well thought out purchase by the DCC. Wonder what were the real reasons for this purchase?

Quote: "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."
I'll tell you what might be a boost for business and regenerate South Dunedin.... how about adding that $33m to the cost of sea level rise protection. DCC, stop putting the cart before the horse. Fix the infrastructure, then indeed we can enjoy the entertainment.

Then just let the Regent to smaller groups at a reduced rental. It is unused most of the time but it is well-equipped after an update several years ago. We can't afford to waste $20 million to $38 million.

Good thinking DSHOP. There is obviously a desire to own another theatre rather than adapt or share, but for ratepayers DCC's passion for adding to their edifice collection lacks appeal.
Where the entity employing consultants has a preference, wise consultants prepare reports that support the case for that rather than the other options.
The claim that Sammy's is too far from the bus hub sits oddly with the distance from bus hub to the stadium and the extreme difficulty of finding a place to park long enough to pick up someone after a match or show.
I believe ratepayers would get much better value from a subsidy system, which would also help the Regent, to enable use by "smaller groups at a reduced rental".
A similar arrangement with the Mayfair, and we would have 2 different theatres suitable for most purposes instead of an expensive 3rd also empty most of the time, plus so much taken by the DCC rates we can't afford to go out for any treats, not even an ice-cream.

I agree with the opinions of all three posters.Why would council buy a property when they cannot buy the land.Sammys should have been demolished.I watched Hair there in 1972 and the theatre was a dog then.Since then I have attended a few concerts in what I would decribe as a cave.The Regent is severely underutilised & could be let for smaller audiences at a reduced rate.As for the George Street proposals they are simply a fiasco.The latest rates increases proposed are scary.

 

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