It was standing room only last night when Napier residents were treated to a possible vision of how their CBD could look - if the city council sells off an earthquake-prone site for commercial development.

This is the recommended course of action the Napier City Council has presented in a statement of proposal, discussed at yesterday's public meeting held in MTG Hawke's Bay.

The council has been exploring a reshuffle of its civic buildings, after seismic assessments in June showed its civic administration building met 10 per cent of new building standards and the library building 15 per cent.

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Yesterday council director city strategy Richard Munneke told the nearly 100-person audience "we have no option but to do something, we can't just stay in the current situation".

Instead the council wanted to move forward with the most "optimal solution".

Council staff and the Napier Library will be leaving the buildings, with the council now asking the community if it agrees with the sale or long-term lease of the Station St corner site for a commercial development.

It would be affordable to redevelop the library building, which could contain all services/council functions and the library.

Commercial development on the front site was ideal as it was near the ocean, and grouped with nearby commercial premises so could help revitalise that area of the CBD, the meeting was told. The library site was surrounded by similar public services.

In terms of choosing a commercial option, a hotel was found to be the most feasible, providing the best initial and long-term economic benefit to the city.

As well as boosting tourism and "activating" the CBD, the city currently has no international-brand hotels. The possibilities for retail and for office accommodation were explored.

Presentations were sidetracked by questions from the floor - from what could be done to bring at-risk safe parts of the buildings up to standard, on the contents of the Napier Library and the MTG, and how long any development could take - answered with an aim of three years.

There was concern about the future of Napier's library - from January it will temporarily be housed in the storage area of MTG Hawke's Bay.

The best future option for the library would be addressed in stage two of the council's consultation plan, with a 12-month library strategy on how it could operate in future.

Residents expressed angst about any ideas to build a library in Clive Square.

When the library moves into the MTG, Napier libraries manager Darran Gillies said there would be work around access, and new measures developed to ensure as much of the collection was available as possible. He assured people the library was keen to adapt for its users.

Addressing fears that this could mean a permanent reduction of the library size, Mr Munneke said they would be looking at what kind of footprint was needed for a future library.

The move into the MTG would pose some challenges, director Laura Vodanovich said, but removing the admission charge was a "big win for us".

Losing two galleries to the library meant MTG staff would be looking creatively at how to use their spaces differently, and make these areas more "object rich".

Also discussed was where council services will be held until refurbishment is complete - council staff are expected to begin moving into three new Napier CBD work spaces this month, with hopes to have all staff out of the current buildings by Christmas.

- More details on the Statement of Proposal are available at napier.govt.nz keyword #councilbuildings. Submissions close Friday 3 November.