John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Council cautious over civic facelift

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A bird's-eye view of how Tauranga's civic heart could look.
A bird's-eye view of how Tauranga's civic heart could look.

Tauranga City councillors have taken the next nervous step to transform the civic centre into a new heart of the downtown costing a minimum of $71 million.

Councillors yesterday stepped back from adopting the business case.

Instead it agreed to a less emphatic word change to reassure people that the council was not pre-determining the outcome of the project.

They voted 10-1 to "receive" the civic space options business case - a more neutral stance than the previous proposal to "adopt" the business case.

"At this stage of the process, we should not step over the line of pre-determining the outcome," Mayor Stuart Crosby said.

The project was a moving feast and they were not eliminating options, he said.

The business case will form the basis of changing council's long-term 2015-25 financial plan to accommodate the project.

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Councillor Catherine Stewart opposed, saying there were a lot of assumptions in the business case.

A fit-for-purpose civic administration building done in an efficient and effective manner came before any frills.

Councillor Steve Morris questioned spending $6.8 million on the civic heart's open spaces, saying that most of the money should instead be spent on the waterfront.

In a recent visit to the waterfront he counted 50 people compared with one person sitting in Masonic Park.

He said the council risked getting cabin fever by thinking that this small space was the be-all and end-all for a city that stretched from the Wairoa River to the Kaituna River.

Councillor Gail McIntosh said $4.3 million was a lot of money for the civic open space but they did not want a good building looking tardy because of what was around it.

"Do it once and do it right."

Councillor John Robson said the council needed to have an open and honest conversation with the community.

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Councillor Leanne Brown said community consultation would be critical. "We want people to tell us what elements they want and what are their priorities."

The business case's preferred way forward began with a new civic administration building to enable the council to address its office accommodation issues.

Tauranga Civic Heart's $190 million redevelopment:

• Civic administration building: $64.3 million
• Civic open space: $4.3 million
• Masonic Park upgrade: $2.5 million
• Library: $28.3 million
• Museum: $23 million
• Performance venue: $58.9 million
• Road and shared street space upgrades: $9.3 million

Street view: Do you support the concept of redeveloping Tauranga's civic centre at a minimum cost of $71 million?

"It is a great idea. We are seeing enormous growth in Tauranga and it will facilitate and contribute to that growth." Louisa Old, 47, Omokoroa.
"It is a great idea. We are seeing enormous growth in Tauranga and it will facilitate and contribute to that growth." Louisa Old, 47, Omokoroa.


"I support the concept but I think the city does not have the money. There are more worthwhile causes for the money to be spent on." Clive Lee, 64, The Avenues.
"I support the concept but I think the city does not have the money. There are more worthwhile causes for the money to be spent on." Clive Lee, 64, The Avenues.


"Obviously if it needs upgrading then the work has to be done. The costs are only going to go up." Wendy O'Shannessey, 67, Papamoa.
"Obviously if it needs upgrading then the work has to be done. The costs are only going to go up." Wendy O'Shannessey, 67, Papamoa.


"Absolutely. Tauranga is a beautiful place but the downtown buildings have been neglected and look dated. For such a beautiful part of the country, we need to pick our game up." Gerard Pollock, 37.
"Absolutely. Tauranga is a beautiful place but the downtown buildings have been neglected and look dated. For such a beautiful part of the country, we need to pick our game up." Gerard Pollock, 37.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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