Museum revamp spend now $1m

01:01, Mar 29 2014

The beleaguered Southland Museum and Art Gallery upgrade could get another cash injection from the city council, taking the total spend on the upgrade so far to $1 million, despite the development not yet having started.

The Invercargill City Council has earmarked $225,000 as part of its draft annual plan to the redevelopment of the museum, money the Southland Museum and Art Gallery plans to use to get a third set of concept plans.

But Southland Museum and Art Gallery Trust chairman Darren Ludlow said the million-dollar spend was because of reasons outside the trust's control.

First Stadium Southland collapsed and the trust was asked to scale back its $24.6 million redevelopment, and just when the trust came up with a second lot of concepts, it was announced the museum did not reach building standards and the team had to return to the drawing board.

"I think we have been caught up in a couple of circumstances that have certainly stretched out what we have had to pay."

Now the trust was considering the third option of building a separate building to the west and using the pyramid as storage and looking at strengthening it at a later stage, he said.


Invercargill City Council assets manager Paul Horner said the museum had faced some hurdles during the design process and despite the concept plans being costly, the trust did require a third set.

Mr Horner said the $225,000 from the council this year would cover the cost of the third set of plans.

However, he defended the million-dollar spend on plans and said it was "normal" for a building project to spend such a chunk on finalising concepts.

The money had been spent on a raft of work being done behind the scenes, he said.

"Concept plans and all the background work that goes with that. Architectural plans and preliminary structural work, cost estimates and engineers."

Mr Horner conceded that from the point of view of the public it looked like nothing had happened, but that was not the case, he said.

"Once we get something that makes sense and we have a good cost estimate, it will be put forward to the community."

Councillor Ludlow said he hoped to put the new plans out for public consultation within six to seven months.

Invercargill City Council director of finance and corporate services Dean Johnston said the money the council was giving to the trust this year was part of the overall cash injection of $3.65m the council had committed to the development.

How the trust chose to spend that money was up to it, he said.

"Hopefully at the end of the day, it will save money on the build."

The Southland Times