Whangārei District Council still has plans to develop land where iconic flats are sited in the CBD, just months after one hotel chain pulled out of constructing a hotel there.
In April, international hotel chain Millennium & Copthorne Hotels NZ (MCK) pulled out of a deal to build a hotel at 8 Dent St. The proposed deal meant Almond Court, a red brick block of six flats overlooking Laurie Hall Park, would have been demolished as the company wanted a clean site before any hotel went ahead.
Whangārei architects Felicity Christian, Grant Harris and architectural designer Helen Beran were among those angry the flats were to be demolished with no guarantee that the hotel development would proceed.
Christian was delighted the hotel plan had been abandoned - proving that the concerns over demolishing the flats without a guaranteed hotel build were correct - but she was now keen to ensure Almond Court survived.
At last month's meeting, the council had an item discussing the development of 8-10 Dent St, which includes Almond Court. The matter was to have been heard in the confidential section of the meeting, but was moved into the public section.
The purpose of the agenda item was "that council approve staff to continue to prepare the sites at 8-10 Dent St for future development in accordance with historical decisions making and council's strategic vision.''
In 2012, after special consultation, the council identified 8-10 Dent St for the development to a tourist/visitor hotel/accommodation.
The agenda item had three options for the site - do nothing; continue with the plan to use the site for a hotel and clear the land ready for development; and offer the site and the flats, for housing development.
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Since Copthorne pulled out of the deal the council has been approached by another hotel developer, which showed there remains interest in a hotel development there.
The council said bringing Almond Court up to standard would cost up to $890,000, and the site could go to market 'as is' for developing the flats for accommodation, or alternatively developing a vacant site.
The matter was left to lie on the table and councillors did not make any decision on what to do next.
But Christian said she is determined to continue to fight to save the flats. She is being supported by several councillors and she hopes a good solution, that includes saving Almond Court, can be found.
Almond Court flats were initially owned by the Brown family and were bought by the council for a "proposed municipal reserve" in 1955 but became part of council's housing stock.