Council recommends private funding of new civic building

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The rebuild of the Tauranga City Council building should be privately funded, research suggests. Photo/file
The rebuild of the Tauranga City Council building should be privately funded, research suggests. Photo/file

A recommendation from Tauranga City Council staff to build the new civic building through private funding will be brought to councillors on Tuesday.

The recommendation to invest $22.3 million in capital costs plus an ongoing lease cost of $2.5m per annum is a result of additional work the Civic Space Options project team has carried out following public submissions that presented arguments for council leasing a new building as opposed to owning it.

The capital cost is the figure set aside for the council's fit out of the building and for costs like demolition and technology.

Council ceneral manager city transformation Jaine Lovell-Gadd said leasing a new building would significantly reduce the initial capital investment required.

"It would also provide the private sector with an opportunity to be involved, add value and demonstrate the innovation that they can bring to big projects like this," she said.

The original recommendation proposed investing $68.6 million in the next four years to build a new civic administration building with surrounding open space on its Willow St site. This figure was based on how much it would cost for the council to construct and own the building.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said a vast majority of the 578 submissions received during public consultation supported the proposed civic heart approach, with credible issues and quality suggestions raised in submissions and the subsequent hearings.

Across the submissions, four major topics were identified. These were:
• sequence of delivery of the elements of the proposal
• proposed cost of the civic administration building
• preferred procurement methodology 'lease' vs 'own' of the civic administration building
• the Master Plan

Questions were raised about the status of the existing buildings as a viable option for long term council office accommodation.

"A number of submissions, from individuals and organisations, questioned the focus on the delivery of the civic administration building ahead of other amenities, and its ability to achieve the project objectives," Mr Crosby said.

"These submissions asked the council to speed up the delivery of the library, museum and performance venue. They suggested that accelerating these projects would more fully contribute to the objectives of the civic heart project, in particular creating a more active, safe and vibrant central city."

Among the submissions that sought this approach were some key membership or representative organisations including Chamber of Commerce, Priority One, Tourism Bay of Plenty, Creative Tauranga, Downtown Tauranga and Tauranga Art Gallery.

We are recommending council moves straight to detailed business cases for a new library and museum
Jaine Lovell-Gadd


Mrs Lovell-Gadd said: "We are recommending council moves straight to detailed business cases for a new library and museum. The business cases would be completed by January 2018, allowing for an informed decision for investment in the Long Term Plan 2018-2028.''

Mrs Lovell-Gadd said she also recommended an indicative business case to provide information that would support a decision to retain (or not) land for a future performance venue.

The Civic Space Options Long Term Plan Amendment Deliberations Report recommends adoption of the following projects:
• Work with the private sector to deliver a new civic administration building for Council to lease on the 91 Willow Street land. $22.3m* in capital costs plus an ongoing lease cost of $2.5m*
• Invest $4.3m to deliver the open space immediately surrounding the civic administration building.
• Invest $2.5m in Masonic Park to better connect the city to the sea and waterfront and create a civic and community place to gather.
• Invest $300,000 to develop a detailed business case for a new museum on the 91 Willow St site to underpin an investment proposal in the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan.
• Invest $400,000 to develop a detailed business case for a fit for purpose, future-proofed city library on the 91 Willow St site to underpin an investment proposal in the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan.
• Invest $100,000 to develop an indicative business case for a 1,000 to 1,200 seat multi-purpose performance venue on the 91 Willow Street land.

Mrs Lovell-Gadd said a number of submissions talked about wanting to stay involved during the delivery phase of the proposed projects to inform the look and feel of the civic heart.

"As such, we are recommending staff update the communications and engagement plan to ensure people continue to have this opportunity. If projects go ahead, there would then be further opportunities for community feedback through formal and informal consultation, including more discussion on the look and feel of the projects,'' she said.

"There is also a recommendation to establish a Technical Advisory Group to advise on delivery of the project. This is a common approach for projects of this scale and significance across New Zealand and allows council to tap into additional expertise."

Other recommendations include:
• Approve the demolition of the Administration Building, as soon as is practically possible, at a cost of $400,000.
• Approves the demolition of the Chambers Building and the Customer Services Building, at a cost of $500,000, upon completion of the new civic administration building, unless information is presented in the interim which necessitates their demolition at an earlier time.
• Continue to seek a private developer to build a hotel on the Council-owned site at 21-41 Durham Street to add to the vibrancy of the city centre and local and regional economic development.
• Adopt the Civic Space Options Master Plan as proposed as a reference design that subsequent phases and alternative proposals can be tested back against on a merits basis to meet or better.
• Direct staff to prepare a project establishment report that will identify the project governance and project management structures for the next phases of the project. The project establishment report will include the structure, terms of reference and process for appointing the Civic Heart Technical Advisory Group.
The Civic Space Options Long Term Plan Amendment Deliberations Report is available here.

*cost adjusted for inflation

- Bay of Plenty Times

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