Miccio group offers lease deal for Trafalgar Centre

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:58 09/06/2014

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A group, including former Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio, has offered to assume all liability and lease the Trafalgar Centre in what they believe is the last chance to see Nelson's primary event facility put back into use.

In an email to the Nelson City Council's infrastructure group manager Alec Louverdis, Miccio, along with Nelson businessman Barry Galbraith and Victory Boxing Programme director Paul Hampton, have asked to meet with the council to discuss the proposal.

But this morning Mayor Rachel Reese ruled out the idea.

"We've had lots of well-meaning members of the public offering suggestions. Some have been very useful and others haven't," said Reese. "I'll be making some announcements on the Trafalgar Centre soon. Opportunities to lease the centre won't be part of that announcement."

The Trafalgar Centre was closed by the council in December because it was deemed an earthquake risk, three years after $7 million was spent on building the centre's southern extension. Since then there has been a lengthy debate about the merits of the closure.

Events cancelled at the centre include a Billy Connolly comedy show, Fight4Victory and Stage Challenge.

The trio have offered to rent the facility for $20,000 a year, saying they will offer full indemnity to "satisfy all possible council concerns" around liability issues.

They would then hire the centre out for commercial and community events and return all profits to the community through donations to charitable organisations. They would contribute to the strengthening from the profits.

Miccio believed the lease option was an "innovative and legally acceptable" solution for all parties.

"Our primary concern is to work together with council to find a way that we can get it open soon, so the community does not need to miss any more major shows.

"Really we are facing, at best, 2 to three years more for an at-best outcome - other than reopening it now - in the interim, before they start work on strengthening or a rebuild. This offer is probably the last chance the community has of getting this asset reopened."

Miccio said the group understood the council's "interpretation of legislation" meant that they were unwilling to take the risk of operating the centre in case an earthquake was to cause the building to collapse. However, the group had received advice that they were legally able to lease and operate the building if the council gave them permission to do so.

"We are prepared to indemnify [council] from any claims, if the building was to collapse while we were leasing it." The group says it will ensure all events are advertised with a caveat that the centre is potentially below 34 per cent of code for national building standards and users must enter at their own risk.

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After the lease amount and other costs, profits would go to the Nelson Hospice, Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust, Nelson Regional Breast Cancer Trust and Victory Boxing Programme.

Hampton said he understood the council was in an unenviable situation. "We just want to sit down with council and see if this is a feasible option. Having the Trafalgar Centre in use is great for the community and the Fight4Victory is a great community event."

- Nelson

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