Tauranga City Council's future administration base will be a 10,000m2 timber building as part of a bid to reduce the city's carbon footprint.
More details of Tauranga's Civic Redevelopment Programme were revealed at a council meeting yesterday as part of the first progress report into the overall project which consists of six projects.
These are the Willow St Civic Rebuild planning; commercial development of 90 Devonport Rd; Willow St council building and library demolition; temporary accommodation at 306 Cameron Rd; establishment of an interim library and customer services centre; and the first phase of the civic precinct development.
In a report to the council, the programme manager of the Civic Redevelopment Programme Mike Naude said negotiations on a lease agreement for 90 Devonport Rd, which would house council staff and offices, was progressing well and a base-building concept design was expected next month.
"The council has provided direction on the key requirements for the new building, including support for a 10,000m2 timber structure building which fronts onto Devonport Rd," he said.
Naude told commissioners in yesterday's meeting that the timber was "the perfect option" and that he could likely come back to the commissioners in about mid-December with a second progress report.
Commission chairwoman Anne Tolley said there were key projects that were interlinked and the city couldn't afford for one to "get out of kilter".
This included the Devonport Rd build. Until that building was constructed staff will be based at the council's Cameron Rd site, which was in the process of being fitted out to help house the staff currently based at Willow St.
"It's quite significant that council is having a timber building, rather than a traditional one. That's part of our carbon reduction," Tolley said.
Timber is expected to be the most carbon-efficient building material for multi-storey construction.
It has been scientifically recognised as a construction material that greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption during the product manufacturing and building construction stages.
Wood processing released little carbon, unlike other materials that emit high quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Timber was also largely used in the construction of Rotorua's new Scion building which opened in March this year.
Scion sustainable architect Andrea Stocchero said on the Scion website there was little reason not to build with wood.
"Building with wood is a great option both for long-term carbon storage and for the broader social, economic and environmental advantages that wood provides on top of other technical, functional and biophilic benefits."
In the meeting, Tolley also reaffirmed that the city's new temporary library at the Goddards Shopping Centre would need to be opened by March.
"It really has to be then. This [Willow St site] is due to come down in April. We don't want any slippage."
Naude also noted in his report that the demolition of the existing council building meant the relocation of the city's main bus interchange from Willow and Wharf streets of up to six years to a location not yet known. The cost and funding options for this relocation are expected to be reported at a future council meeting.
Commissioner Bill Wasley raised concerns about the length of the temporary relocation and told Naude the commission would like to see this reduced.
Wasley also raised the issue of a lack of signage at the council's existing Cameron Rd site.
Naude responded by saying staff were working with the landlord regarding signage but had to be mindful of other tenants working from the same site.
Tolley said: "I appreciate that but we will be a significant tenant with people coming, particularly to see the chief executive and the commission and eventually the council. It's really important that people know where they are going, especially using those meeting rooms downstairs."
Commissioner Stephen Selwood said it was great to see a bunch of projects about "defining the future of the city" progressing.
"It would be good to tell the community this is underway. This is fantastic news for the future of Tauranga and we need to be telling it.
"I think Tauranga citizens can have confidence that the council has a clear strategy."
The commissioners agreed to receive the report. A draft master plan with more details of each project within the Civic Precinct Redevelopment was expected to be completed within the next three months. The interim library and customer service centre at the Goddards Shopping Centre are expected to officially open on January 24.