Hold put on Hutt theatre work

Last updated 06:37 19/08/2014
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CAMERON BURNELL/Fairfax NZ

CONSENT PENDING: The old theatre building on the left of the Petone clock tower is up for redevelopment.

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Lower Hutt developer Kevin Melville has been told not to do any more work on the exterior of an old Petone theatre building before he gets consent for a proposed new retail and apartment development.

Hutt City Council resource consent team leader Tim Johnstone said they received a call from a city councillor last week who reported demolition had started on the front of the old theatre building at 185-189 Jackson St.

The building is next to the Petone clock tower and Doreen Doolan Mall and is part of the Jackson St heritage area.

Johnstone said that when he visited the site he found leadlight windows had been removed and some of the decorative tiles on the front of the building had been cracked in an effort to see how easily they could be removed.

Reuse of the old leadlights and tiles would be a requirement of any resource consent that may be granted for the development.

The project manager and developer were both advised not to do any more work on the frontage until a consent was obtained. However, work could continue on the interior, Johnstone said.

Melville has applied for consent to gut the old quake-prone building, replicate the shop frontage and put a two storey apartment development on top.

The project, expected to cost $3.5 million, would include demolition of the former theatre, which has been used more recently as a church.

The plan was to use the space occupied by the theatre/church for car parks, and 14 apartments would be built above.

"It would have been easier to bowl these things and build new, but of course you can't," Melville said. "The existing structure will stay but we've pretty much gutted it."

The development should help clean up an area where there were a lot of break-ins and damage to cars left at night in the Petone library car park, he said.

The plan was to rent rather than sell the apartments and experience with apartments in an adjoining building showed there was strong demand.

Where Melville thought the demand would be from students a lot of the apartments were taken up by couples in their mid 20s who wanted to live in Jackson St.

It was a popular place and he expected apartments would rent for $350 to $400 a week.

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- The Dominion Post

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