Festival may shell out for indoor venue
Do you want the Bluff Oyster Festival indoors?
The Bluff Oyster and Food Festival committee wants to buy and demolish a historic building in the town to make a new undercover site for the annual event.
The move, if successful, will mark the end of the historic Club Hotel, which was rebuilt after a fire in 1914, in Bluff's main street.
The festival committee has negotiated a price for the hotel and is waiting on a decision from the Historic Places Trust after sending it an engineer's report on the historic building.
But committee spokesman Evan Peniall was reluctant to talk about its plans yesterday, saying "none of it is news".
He said the committee had approached the Invercargill City Council with its plans.
Council chief executive Richard King said the festival committee wanted to get the whole site to hold the Bluff festival.
"They want a site that is big enough to have stalls under cover."
There were also adjoining areas they "could acquire", Mr King said.
The committee had asked the council for funding, he said.
But Mr Peniall denied this, saying they had not approached the council for funding but confirmed the committee had been in discussions with the council about its plans.
The committee had commissioned an engineer's report on the historic hotel and sent it to the Historic Places Trust to consider.
If the recommendations work in with the committee's plans it would go through with the purchase, he said.
The council has now asked the committee to compile more information about its site plans, Mr Peniall said.
Mr King said the council had not ruled out giving the festival committee funding for the project.
Despite the colourful history with the festival and the Bluff community taking back the control of the annual event, Mr King said the relationship had improved.
"The council is very supportive of the Bluff Oyster and Food Festival."
However, no monetary figure was discussed in regards to the funding from the council for the project, he said.
Mr Peniall refused to say what the committee planned to do with the site for the other 364 days of the year, only saying it would benefit the Bluff community.
Mr Peniall said he and one other committee member had been involved in negotiations with the Blenheim-based owners of the historic hotel.
"I am the man who has negotiated the price of the hotel."
The committee has $334,534 in the bank, according to the Charities Commission, and Mr Peniall confirmed this.
City council building regulation services manager Simon Tonkin said some outbuildings on the hotel property had already been demolished, including a laundry, billiard hall, the back of a dining room and the old staff quarters.
"They were considered dangerous and were taken down."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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