I- Site building to be used for new business

By John Cousins

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Mount Maunganui's old Visitor Information Centre in Salisbury Ave looks set to be transformed into a thriving commercial enterprise.

The city council has agreed to give the 30-year-old building a new lease of life after the i-Site was closed by Tourism Bay of Plenty in April this year.

Yesterday's meeting agreed to begin the process of changing the building's reserve classification so that it could be leased to a commercial operator. In the meantime, the building will be the headquarters for this summer's ambassador programme at the Mount.

Council recreational planner Stephanie Wheeler said that since the building became vacant, staff had fielded numerous inquiries from people interested in starting up commercial ventures.

Proposals included a cycle hire business, a base for tour operators and associated activities, a gift shop, an internet cafe and a cafe.

Other options for the site was to demolish the concrete block building. She said it would enable this corner of Coronation Park to be opened up, allowing greater accessibility and visibility.

It would also fit the overall vision for the park.

However the cost to demolish the building and reinstate the site would be $30,000. The $95,000 book value of the building would also have to be written off.

The building's only permitted use under its present reserve status was as an information centre.

Changing its use triggered a Reserves Act process that required community consultation and consent from the Minister of Conservation.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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