Cost miscalculations for theatre

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 07:50 29/04/2014

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Palmerston North's revamped Globe Theatre is due to open in just over three weeks, using $404,000 more ratepayers' money than planned, and without a kitchen, let alone an operating cafe and bar.

City councillors were yesterday aghast at news of the cost miscalculations that ran counter to advice given at a workshop earlier in the day.

A sum of $284,000, which the council agreed to underwrite in March last year to enable tenders to be called ahead of full fundraising success, has already been absorbed, another $120,000 is needed for completion, and there is still no kitchen.

Chief financial officer Grant Elliott broke the news to a council meeting yesterday afternoon, apologising for an error in information given that morning.

"There had been an assumption the underwritten amount had not been committed, but it has."

The full cost of the project will be $2.4 million, ahead of the estimated $2.19m.

The extra costs related to a range of consultant, building and project management fees, and the fit out.

The council originally committed $875,000 to the project, the Globe Theatre Trust Board has raised just short of $300,000, and the balance had been raised in grants.

"Those sums have been fully committed, and we are still $120,000 short," said Elliott.

Cr Susan Baty said she was gob-smacked and absolutely horrified, Cr Chris Teo-Sherrell said he had very little confidence left in the project, and Ross Linklater said he was flabbergasted.

The news left councillors in no mood to consider spending another $100,000 to equip a kitchen for the cafe-bar space, or to lend the Globe Theatre Trust Board the money.

Teo-Sherrell said it would be very unwise to put ratepayer money into a venture he believed would be a lemon.

Cr Annette Nixon said it was regrettable, but she hoped there would be opportunities to build a relationship with a potential cafe operator and develop the concept at a later stage.

Councillors voted unanimously that the trust should borrow its own money if it wanted the cafe equipped.

Trust board chairman Stephen Fisher said that would be difficult to achieve without the council's support. "I felt quite positive after the morning meeting, but I was absolutely staggered when I heard the figures in the afternoon."

He said the trust's contributions had never been intended to cover the fit out for the cafe.

He was disappointed with the council decision.

The theatre has a liquor licence, and could have considered offering basic bar facilities for theatre goers during the three-month opening festival.

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However, its original kitchen had been demolished in the rebuild, and it would be difficult to be able to meet licensing standards.

- Manawatu Standard

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