Landowners await contact

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 09:04 11/08/2014
Ralph Kyte-Powell
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ
REAL ESTATE: Blenheim buildings that are still having their future negotiated.

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Owners of properties next to the land in central Blenheim bought by the council for a new library and community hub expect their land will also be wanted for the project.

The Marlborough District Council approved the purchase of two blocks of land for a new library and "cultural precinct" building at its meeting last week.

Marlborough mayor Alistair Sowman said councillors agreed to proceed with negotiations to buy two sites in High St to prepare the way for redevelopment. The two sites are 13 High St, an empty building previously occupied by PC Media, and 9-13 High St, which is currently leased to Warehouse Stationery.

He said discussions were continuing with other property owners in the High St-Wynen St area.

Liquorland owner Warren Dillon said he was waiting for the council to come to him.

"It's all in their hands really. I'm sure they'll approach us in due course."

Councillors approved the project and Dillon said now that had happened, he expected there would be discussions over the future of the Liquorland site at the corner of High and Symond streets.

"We're after some certainty for our business."

PGG Wrightson national property manager Doug Cartridge was unable to be contacted, but it is understood that company is also planning to move and the council has had preliminary discussions about the future of the site, on the corner of Wynen and Symond streets.

The City Hotel, which is partly demolished, could also be in the mix. Owner Rob Anderson said he had nothing to report on the future of the site.

Sowman said the central business district project was likely to be a staged development completed over several years.

"We are not likely to be in a position to tackle this as a single redevelopment project because, although we have some funds allocated for a new library, this project is bigger than just one library building. It's an urban design project and a very important one for the town but it cannot be done at the expense of all other priorities."

The council needed to maintain sufficient reserves to deal with ongoing flood damage and potential earthquake damage. Flood damage and earthquake strengthening work had made heavy calls on the council's emergency reserves in the past year or two and that fund needed to be built back up, he said.

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Councillors were also mindful that there were some other core infrastructure projects to be considered.

"We have a series of potential projects in front of us - and others which have been only floated at this stage - so we have quite a bit of work to do yet before we know how we will stage the library project. We all appreciate we have to get the financial balance right - to work out our priorities.

"Our proposal to develop a new precinct near the river is still in its early stages.

"But councillors support the overall concept and, once the parameters of the overall site are settled, we will begin the planning and consultation processes to see what can be achieved here," Sowman said.

- The Marlborough Express

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