The site where Whangārei's $37 million civic centre will be built has been chosen.
The centre, which will bring all of Whangārei District Council's staff and councillors under one roof, will be built on the combined Forum North/RSA precinct site.
The decision was made at an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday, with 10 councillors voting in favour of the combined site, three against it and one abstaining.
Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai said the decision was a "really significant step" towards the new centre.
She said when it came to voting, the "things that tipped the scales" were aspects such as the proximity to the library, the theatre and a large car park that can service needs day and night, the sense of creating a cultural and civic precinct and the link with the shared path.
Exactly where within the Forum North/RSA precinct the civic centre will be built, and subsequently what it means for existing buildings, has yet to be decided.
"There are still plenty of options open to us and we're actually quite excited about the next phase."
She said the other site identified was the council-owned Vine St carpark. Mai said it had "great potential" and could have anchored that part of the city core, however it was not preferred with councillors voted.
More than a decade ago, a transport hub and multi-storey carpark was touted for the Vine St site.
"There was really high quality debate with people talking really passionately about their vision for the future," Mai said.
The councillors also voted to enter into negotiations with Canam Construction as the lead contractor for the build and The Building Intelligence Group as Principal's Agent for the project.
Canam Construction has recently completed the Bay of Island Hospital redevelopment at Kawakawa, the new maternity unit and accommodation office fit-out at Whangārei Hospital, the Whangārei BNZ branch and the VTNZ refurbishment in Kerikeri.
Council corporate general manager Alan Adcock said it is exciting to move into the next stage of the project.
"We are going to use a collaborative approach; where we work with Canam Construction as the lead contractor. They in turn will assemble a team including architects, engineer, planners, landscape designers etc who will work with us to develop concept designs, take them through detailed design and consenting processes, construction and fit-out before handover of the finished complex."
"The Building Intelligence Group have been selected as principal's agent and will act as council's project manager and provide objective peer reviews as the project unfolds," Adcock said.
He said considerable interest was shown in the project with tender submissions coming from local, national and Australian suppliers.
"Council has been exploring for several years how to create a civic centre that is suitable for our growing city and enables all our staff to work in one central location.
"We will be doing our best to create an award-winning building which also provides value for money. It must be innovative in design, meet the needs of our community now and in the future, and be designed with sustainability in mind."
He said they want to be in the new building by June 2021.
Last year the council asked for public feedback on three potential sites, Forum North, the RSA site or an unknown CBD site.
The council purchased the RSA site in 2017 for $3.4 million.
Councillors then joined the Forum North and RSA site together and called for expressions of interest for both that site and the central city site.
Two expressions of interest documents were released in early November for the Lead Contractor and Principal's Agent. It received 21 responses across the two documents, before narrowing the shortlist to three for each procurement.
- $37 million civic centre
- 375 full time and part time council employees spread across Forum North and Walton Plaza
- Three originally proposed sites, narrowed to one
- 21 expressions of interest received for two separate procurements
- Council plans to be in new building by June 2021