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Mayor unveils new plan to strengthen and reopen Town Hall by 2021

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Wellington’s Town Hall is on track to be restored and reopened, with a new plan for earthquake strengthening being presented to the City Council next week.

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At a news conference this morning, Mayor Justin Lester said the earthquake strengthening will be to 100% of the building code. Extensive testing will be carried out before construction begins, and the Town Hall will be ready to reopen in 2021.

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“The Town Hall is a world class performance venue, and it’s been the site of some of Wellington’s most significant cultural performances,” said the Mayor.

The Council’s previous plan to restore the heritage building called for an expenditure of $58.5 million. The Mayor says that figure has risen after the subsequent earthquakes and will be closer to $85 million, with another $5 million already budgeted for.

“The impact of this project has been factored into this year’s Annual Plan and this year’s portion can be met within the 3.3% average proposed rate increase I announced on Monday. The cost will be spread across the lifetime of the asset in order to minimise the impact on rates,” he says.

“It’s been clear for a while that the previous plan wasn’t going to be enough to see this building restored. It’s not going to become cheaper in the future and building a replacement venue would be much more expensive and lack the tradition, heritage and prestige of the Town Hall.

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“That’s why our Town Hall team has been re-visiting strengthening options in light of technological developments and ground conditions. They’ve also undertaken a review of the building’s proposed foundation design taking into account the 2013 and 2016 earthquakes.”

The higher overall cost estimate largely reflects an improved scope of works, which includes basement storage and access, basement toilets, an extra goods lift, a higher contingency given the complexity of the project, a buoyant construction market and continued seismic uncertainty after the 2016 earthquake.

The Council will be consulting Wellingtonians for feedback on the plan.

“It’s a big investment and we want a clear mandate from the public. Previous consultation showed Wellingtonians loved this building and wanted to see it open,” said deputy mayor Paul Eagle.

The Town Hall has played a crucial part in the history of our city. It hosted the inaugural New Zealand Symphony Orchestra performance 70 years ago as well as memorable performances by Dame Malvina Major, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

“I’m hopeful this will have public support and people will see this is a way to help our city retain its cultural capital status. The Town Hall being closed has left a huge hole in the performance space in our city, and I’m excited we have the opportunity to restore it,” adds the Deputy Mayor.

Read also:
Doing the right thing for the Town Hall

3 comments:

  1. Tony Jansen, 30. March 2017, 18:02

    Overjoyed!

     
  2. Libby Grant, 31. March 2017, 7:21

    Excellent decision. it’s a beautiful building and an integral part of our city’s heritage

     
  3. Polly, 3. April 2017, 8:08

    Would like to refer back to February 2014 when Mayor Celia Wade Brown reminded the city that the 110 year old Town Hall is not only a category Heritage 1 building but also its acoustic quality makes it one of the world’s top three venues for performing and recording music. When the council voted unanimously in June 2013 the cost was estimated at $46m so why in the world did the work not commence then. With a few additions and combined with the Michael Fowler Centre and the two nearby hotels in Wakefield Street it could also be a superb convention centre. And let us not forget the Ilott Theatre which is a wonderful venue for concerts, lectures etc.

     

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