Theatre complex update

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:30 28/01/2013

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Momentum is building in the development of Marlborough's new theatre complex.

The Marlborough District Council is finalising its lease arrangement with the Marlborough Civic Theatre Trust for the riverbank site where the new facility will be located.

Details appear in a report as part of the agenda supplied to the council's community and financial planning meeting on Thursday, which updates councillors on progress with the project.

Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said the report had brought councillors up to speed, now that "there were holes in the ground".

"Councillors need to know what their responsibilities are . . . The ball is in the trust's court.

"They have certain responsibilities that we'll be watching that they undertake them," Mr Sowman said.

The report says the council has been working with the trust since 2005. The trust provided a feasibility study in 2006 which explored options for providing Marlborough with a new theatre for the performing arts sector.

"In 2008, council agreed to provide the trust with a capital grant of $5 million along with annual operating assistance of $200,000.

"In December 2008, council agreed to act as a guarantor to a loan of $250,000. That loan was repaid in 2011."

The trust got resource consent for the new theatre in early 2011, to be built on council land next to the Clubs and Marlborough Convention Centre building, and in June 2011 the council agreed to buy the trust's existing Central Business District site for $6m. That site is opposite the Blenheim Public Library on Arthur St.

The sale is expected to take place on June 30 this year, the report said.

The rent from tenants Noel Leeming, State Insurance and parking revenue was expected to cover the funding cost of the council's purchase, it said.

A new title for the theatre had been created in March last year, the report said, and the district solicitor was finalising a long-term lease with the trust.

It would be based on a peppercorn rental, the same arrangement as with other community facilities, such as the Stadium Trust.

"The lease will cover the development site and incorporate two air space occupations."

The report said the council agreed in June last year to act as a guarantor to a Canterbury Community Trust loan of $500,000 and an ASB Bank loan of $2.25m.

"These loans are a form of security for the trust in case they do not achieve their fundraising targets. At this point they have no intention of drawing down on the ASB loan."

It said that Robinson Construction was awarded the 22-month construction contract in December, and work began on the site on January 7.

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Subcontractor Fulton Hogan is working on the site now, with initial work on road realignment and basement foundations.

"The Clubs of Marlborough have been kept informed of progress regularly. The lighting and access to the parking building has been upgraded and a new exit from council's car park outside the Clubs and Convention centre onto Russell Terrace has been created to assist traffic movements."

- The Marlborough Express

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