Napier City Council floats idea of turning road into new library site
Closing a road to build a new library between two city squares is one idea being considered by Napier City Council as it ponders options for a major rejig of its civic buildings.
The council is considering demolishing its main administrative building on Hastings Street. A seismic analysis, due over the next few months, is likely to show it will need an expensive upgrade to bring it up to code for earthquake reliance.
The council is considering moving staff into the neighbouring four-storey library building and redeveloping the Hastings St site, possibly into a hotel.
That would leave the council needing to find a new location for the library.
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City strategy director Richard Munneke said moving it to the Clive Square and Memorial Square precinct off Emerson St would help revitalise the western edge of the CBD.
Closing the section of Emerson St that separates the two squares in order to house a library was only a proposal as the council prepared to consult the public on possible plans for developments that would be several years away, and "all options are on the table," Munneke said.
But plans to develop the squares have drawn a backlash, particularly from opponents of any move to demolish an historic building on Memorial Square.
The 1925 former "Women's Rest" building designed by renowned Art Deco architect James Augustus Louis Hay, has been closed for several years after the council discovered it was earthquake prone.
The historic building would not need to be demolished in order for the proposed library to be built, but heritage groups are concerned the council may be planning to demolish the building as part of its development plans for the square because a figure of over $1 million had been put on making it seismically safe.
Art Deco Trust heritage officer Michael Fowler said the trust was "fundamentally against any of our heritage buildings being knocked down" and would take the matter up with the council.
Munneke said no decision had been made to demolish the building and it was important for the community to have a conversation about its future.
It was pleasing to see the passionate response the public had shown towards the squares, and the council wanted to use that energy "positively" to produce a future plan for the precinct that tapped into that passion, he said.
While the council had discussed the future of its Hastings St site with motel developers, it was also open to other uses such as apartments or as a retail precinct, he said.