The Napier City Council has taken a big step towards rehoming itself in setting up a steering group to establish a futuristic Civic Precinct which could include a 128-room hotel.
The Council's first full meeting by video-conferencing, with members self-isolating mainly in their homes around the city, on Thursday confirmed the establishment of a Civic Precinct Steering Group to develop Project Trifecta – the use of the former Civic Building site, new city council premises and re-establishing the Public Library.
The Council closed the Civic Building, facing Hastings St, and the neighbouring Public Library, facing Station St, in a sudden move in 2017 after each failed earthquake risk assessments in the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.
It was part of a recommendation in staff reports which were to have been presented at committee meetings which were cancelled last month because of the Covid-19 crisis.
The proposals include a possible hotel of more than 100 rooms on the Civic Building site, re-restrengthening to reinstate the library on its site including some council offices, and the placement of new City Council headquarters.
The preferred library option will be included in the annual plan and any feedback passed on to the group, which will be chaired by deputy mayor Annette Brosnan.
The group will also consider potential use and "linkages" involving neighbouring site in enhancing the Civic Precinct proposal, including possibly privately-owned but on-the-market Vautier House, part of which formerly housed the Police Eastern District Headquarters and which also house Ministry of Social Development service, which will be on the move to a new building which has just started being constructed in Kennedy Rd.
The Council had already decided on demolition of the existing building and having sought expressions of interest from hotel developers has been in negotiation with a "winning candidate", according to a report to the Council Director Strategy Richard Munneke.
"This development would see a mixed-use development, with ground-floor retail, all day dining facilities, roof-top bar and a 4.5-star hotel of 128 rooms," he wrote.
The civic building demolition will start as soon as possible while negotiations continue relating to the hotel development.
Brosnan told the meeting it was "very exciting" to move the project forward in "a very co-ordinated way", including partnerships in the area which include other land and business owners, the regional council, on Dalton St, the Government departments.
The meeting also formalised a decision to store building's centennial time capsule and mural for placement in the precinct.
No timeline was given, but the Council expects full reports from the group and to take issue to consultation level where necessary.
The Council had a busy meeting of more than four hours, some of it interspersed with Mayor Kirsten Wise's adaptation to the new technology and household activities such as child-minding behind the scenes and phone-ringing.