South Dunedin library concept advancing

The refurbishment of Dunedin's City Library could be pushed back while plans for a multimillion-dollar facility in South Dunedin are advanced, it has been suggested.

Councillors will next week be asked to endorse the next stage of work towards a new South Dunedin community complex, including a library, to be built from 2017 to 2019.

The project could cost the council about $5.2 million to get off the ground, as well as a share of $971,000 in annual operating costs.

As a result, a $3.85 million budget to refurbish the City Library, originally pencilled in for 2019-20, had been spread over two years, to include 2020-21 as well.

If approved, council staff would begin detailed community consultation and planning work - including a final design and the selection of a location - before beginning construction of the South Dunedin complex.

That came after councillors last year axed plans to open a temporary ''shop front'' library in South Dunedin, and instead asked staff to focus on options for a permanent community complex.

That report, by council city property manager Kevin Taylor, would be considered when long-term plan pre-draft deliberations begin next week.

Mr Taylor's report showed funding pencilled in for the South Dunedin complex had reduced from $8 million to $5 million, spread over 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The lower capital cost would also reduce the council's borrowing costs by $875,000 over the 10-year period of the long-term plan, he said.

The lower cost reflected the council's preference for redeveloping a heritage building, rather than building a new facility, he said.

Initial costings put the cost of acquiring, redeveloping and fitting out a heritage building at about $5.2 million, he said.

That was based on an ''investment proposal'' developed by council city property staff, who suggested buying the former Wolfenden and Russell building.

The building could then be redeveloped in phases, with some parts used for a library and other council services, while the rest was leased to external partners.

That would help reduce the council's share of operating costs, which would be shared between community and government partners.

The building aimed to provide a ''hub'' for community services and resources, including a library and also a community learning centre, offering access to computers and trained staff, run by Otago Polytechnic.

Other features suggested included a youth hub run by Ministry of Social Development staff, a bike library, community meeting rooms, public toilets, a council service centre and free public computers and Wi-Fi.

However, Mr Taylor emphasised no commitment had been made about buying the former Wolfenden and Russell building, and any detailed planning work would include a search for other suitable locations.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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