Events centre takes shape but no progress on Lower Hutt's hotel

An artist's impression of the exterior of Lower Hutt's soon to be finished events centre and  refurbishedTown Hall,
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An artist's impression of the exterior of Lower Hutt's soon to be finished events centre and refurbishedTown Hall,

 It looks a bit like a bomb site but a key part of the Hutt City Council's plan to rejuvenate the city is taking shape.

The $24.9 million events centre and town hall upgrade should be completed by early 2018.

The council hopes the events centre and a yet to be built hotel in High St, will be major draw cards.

Foreman Richard Ireland is one of about 50 workers building a $24.9 million town hall and events centre in Lower Hutt.
Nicholas Boyack

Foreman Richard Ireland is one of about 50 workers building a $24.9 million town hall and events centre in Lower Hutt.

With the steel framing for the events centre in place, Naylor Love project manager Scott Duncan said construction was roughly 60 per cent complete.

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There were about 50 workers on site but once the fit out starts, that would increase to 120.

Lower Hutt's landmark clock tower has undergone a significant upgrade and earthquake strengthening..
Nicholas Boyack

Lower Hutt's landmark clock tower has undergone a significant upgrade and earthquake strengthening..

Both the town hall and the historic clock tower are being strengthened and refurbished.

The town hall sits between the council's $23m refurbished administration building and the new events centre.

As many of the historic features as possible, including its distinctive wooden floor, staircase and steel door, have been removed ready to be reinstated when the strengthening is finished.

Initial problems with the foundations have been overcome, with the deepest piles going down 18 metres.

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Naylor Love is currently using the back of the old Horticultural Hall – the only part of the hall still standing – as a site office .

It will be demolished as work on the events centre ramps up.

When the council first announced its plan, there was a fear that the much loved but earthquake prone clock tower would be demolished.

Duncan said a lot of work had gone into finding a solution for the tower.

"They are quite smart cookies, the engineers working on that."

A steel pole now runs through the centre of the tower and 48 steel dampers act as shock absorbers.

The tower is attached to the Council Chambers, where council meetings are held.

When work on the town hall is completed, the tower would become the escape route from the chambers.

Scott was confident the target date of early 2018 would be met, and the complex would be good for the city.

"I think it will be a bit of a game changer for the whole area."

Mayor Ray Wallace predicts the economic impact of the events centre and hotel at $134m over 20 years.

The facility would enable Lower Hutt to host events and conferences that will greatly boost the vibrancy of the central city and help drive the local economy, he said.

Meanwhile, there is still no sign of life on the site of a planned $12 million four star hotel in southern High St.

Hutt City paid $3.5m for the land to help facilitate a hotel to service the events centre. The hotel is to be built by a developer who also has the contract to run the events centre.

When the plan was unveiled in November 2015, the completion date for the four-star hotel was "early" 2017.

The council continues to say it is definitely going ahead and work should start soon.

 - Stuff

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