The owner of Auckland's long-shut historic St James Theatre on Queen St wants $300 million Government funding to restore and reopen the venue and develop a previously-ditched new apartment block next door.
Steve Bielby of the trust which owns the 1928 theatre said state Infrastructure Reference Group chairman Mark Binns had written to him, confirming possible state involvement.
"We are pleased to inform you that your project St James Project was included on the list to ministers," Binns told Bielby, although that did not mean the project would make the shortlist "but that it would be considered for potential funding".
John Polkinghorne of Parnell-based retail consultants RCG wrote a report putting St James forward as a shovel-ready project, qualifying for state involvement.
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The theatre shut three years ago after the trust started work that it then couldn't finish when the neighbouring St James Apartment scheme was axed in 2016 due to lack of sales and rising construction costs.
Under the previous owner Paul Doole the theatre was at least open for events but Bielby's trust ran out of money after digging up the floor, so stopped all work in August 2017.
Since then, the building where St Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh once appeared on the stage together has been indefinitely mothballed with dim prospects.
The Auckland Notable Properties Trust owns the category 1 heritage building. Bielby is a trustee along with Denise Marsden and two partners at Alexander Dorrington.
Polkinghorne said the trust wanted $300m of development funding to restore the theatre, build more than 300 new apartments and 3000sq m of offices on a neighbouring site.
Bielby said the apartment site and theatre were on three titles at 304-328 Queen St. The apartment site is owned by the migrant Li family.
"At current borrowing rates, the interest cost for Government would be just $1m for a $300m loan," Polkinghorne's application said. The project would generate $52.5m of GST for the Government, involve 460 workers annually building it and contribute $1m as a development contribution to Auckland Council, he said.
Polkinghorne said the St James property was a centrally-located site with excellent access to employment due to more than 120,000 jobs in Auckland Central.
The property was in the heart of the city, surrounded by theatres and restaurants, and had outstanding transport connections.
"The St James redevelopment is a very foresighted project, including the preservation of an Auckland icon and historic place, as well as a private development that delivers much-needed new housing in an excellent location. It will have significant economic benefits for Auckland and New Zealand," Polkinghorn concluded.
Asked this week if the project was likely be funded, Binns did not reply.