It's housed everything from cat shows to a Coolio concert, mardi gras to markets, but now the days of a once-iconic Rotorua building are numbered.

In response to questions from the Rotorua Daily Post, Rotorua Lakes Council has confirmed the Soundshell and adjoining cafe will be demolished "after July".

It follows news the Lakeside Cafe would not have its lease renewed, with the owners closing its doors for good yesterday.

Read more: Rotorua's Lakeside Cafe closing as lease not renewed
Street View: Do you think the Soundshell should be demolished?

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But the removal of the 59-year-old Soundshell building that was once "the place to be" paves the way for plans to redevelop the area into a "world-class lakefront".

American rap artist Coolio, best known for his song Gangsters Paradise, performed at the Soundshell in 2003. Photo / file
American rap artist Coolio, best known for his song Gangsters Paradise, performed at the Soundshell in 2003. Photo / file

The council's group strategy manager Jean-Paul Gaston said Rotorua Soundshell had been "flagged for removal for several years".

The structure's auditorium was deemed earthquake prone and closed to the public in July 2015.

He said the council had allocated funding for redevelopment of the area in the 2015-25 Long Term Plan.

"The Soundshell auditorium had already needed significant repair and sustained further damage when the roof failed in 2016. The western annex, which houses the cafe, is not earthquake prone but has required ongoing maintenance."

Gaston said the council had investigated the possibility of retaining the cafe as a stand-alone building, but the move was not feasible as it would require constructing a new exterior wall, roof, renovations, asbestos removal and other replacements.

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"The building is due for removal after July and the future of the site will feature in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan."

As signalled in its 2017/18 Annual Plan, the council proposes redeveloping the lakefront as part of a "city ring of reserves" proposal that would link Kuirau Park, the lakefront, Government Gardens and Sanatorium Reserve.

"The council will soon be consulting the community on proposals for the 2018-28 Long Term Plan, including the development of a world-class lakefront interweaving elements like the natural landscapes, art and culture.

"The plan would include the creation of a building site where investors could establish restaurants, cafes, kiosks and ticketing offices for lake activities."

The Soundshell auditorium was last leased by Soundshell Market organisers Liz and Gordon Davies between 1988 and 2015.

Liz and Gordon Davies pictured in 2015 when their lease for the Soundshell was not renewed. Photo / file
Liz and Gordon Davies pictured in 2015 when their lease for the Soundshell was not renewed. Photo / file

Mrs Davies said she had not wanted to leave the building at the time, but recognised it needed significant maintenance.

She said it was sad but not surprising that the building was to be demolished.

"It's an incredibly sad thing. There are a lot of locals who have such fond memories in that building and will be devastated when it goes.

"I believe it was built with community donations and has been used for so many events in its time. For locals it was quite a special place - an icon.

"It will be an end of an era. It's a shame it had to go this way, that it was left to fall into disrepair. It's a sad time for the lakefront."

Monty Morrison, who organised many News Year's Eve events at the Soundshell between 1997 and 2014, said while he had fond memories of it, the community's needs had changed.

"When it was built, it was fit for purpose of the time. That is no longer the case and now there is an opportunity to make changes to the area to fit with the needs of the community.

One of the last mardi gras New Year's Eve concerts held at Soundshell. Photo / file
One of the last mardi gras New Year's Eve concerts held at Soundshell. Photo / file

"That said, there will be a lot of people in my age group with fond memories of the place - for a long time it was Rotorua's place to be."

Rotorua entertainer Howie Morrison said the Soundshell played an important role in the career of his father, the late Sir Howard Morrison.

"It was there that he won the Rotorua Soundshell Talent Quest. I think it was then that they realised how good they [the quartet] were and after that win, decided to pursue music professionally.

"That building is an icon that we will be losing, but hopefully whatever replaces it will allow events to be held there.

"For years Soundshell has been a magnet for the community and it has only been recently that people have forgotten about it because it's been closed. Rotorua's biggest family events were held there - I hope we see that continue after it is gone."

Consultation on the Long Term Plan begins Monday until April 13. Go to www.rotorualakescouncil.nz/letstalk.

Event highlights at Rotorua Soundshell
- Rotorua Soundshell Talent Quest, won by a young Sir Howard Morrison and the original quartet members
- Mardi Gras New Year's Eve Party
- American rap artist Coolio concert
- Rotorua Rest Home Games
- Soundshell Craft Market
- Rotorua Rock and Roll Club championships
- Psychic Sue Nicholson's show, Answers from the Other Side
- Police-run youth discos in the 1980s
- The vaudevillian freak show