Whanganui District Council has given the green light for construction to begin on the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui redevelopment project.

The council has agreed to a tender by Palmerston North construction company, McMillan & Lockwood Ltd to construct the first stage of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui redevelopment project.

Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment project director, Gaye Batty, said that on Friday, November 1, Council voted to award the $20 million contract to McMillan & Lockwood to construct the extension wing component of the redevelopment.

This wing, to be named Te Pataka o Sir Archie John Te Atawhai Taiaroa will house new galleries, a retail shop, café, education facilities and state-of-the-art storage space for the Gallery's extensive collection, now and into the future.

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"I am delighted we have reached this milestone for the project which will be underway very soon," Batty said.

"McMillan & Lockwood can be congratulated on having submitted a very competitive tender scoring well on their construction methodology and innovation and they met our requirement for the use of Whanganui subcontractors."

Batty said the contract will be offered on a fixed price lump sum basis with a construction contingency and as part of the contract negotiations, McMillan & Lockwood have been working with the project design team to reduce procurement costs to ensure the design
achieves Whanganui District Council's budget requirements.

"The second stage of construction, the upgrade of the 100-year-old Sarjeant building, including seismic strengthening, is intended to be awarded at a later date as a variation to this contract."

However, she said McMillan & Lockwood will be able to make a start on some specific work inside the Sarjeant before starting work on the extension.

Batty said the first part of the tender process was a call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs), which was advertised to the open market.

"We had a healthy response to this, which was an excellent start, with six credible EOIs received, which then went through a short-listing process."

Mayor Hamish McDouall said it has been an exciting proposal for the new Council to consider.

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"There's a great deal of excitement throughout the District for this project," he said.

"After the astounding fundraising efforts, it will be so rewarding to the community, the donors and all the Sarjeant supporters to see the ongoing build."

McMillan and Lockwood are a nationwide construction company based in Palmerston North.

They have completed construction of over four hundred major projects in New Zealand including UCOL Whanganui and the refurbishment of Whanganui Hospital in 2008.