Council buys site for building Hawera's new library and civic centre

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop in front of a building the council has purchased  in Hawera to site its new centre for ...
Catherine Groenestein

South Taranaki Mayor Ross Dunlop in front of a building the council has purchased in Hawera to site its new centre for heritage, arts, library, culture and information.

Hawera has received an early Christmas present - a site has been bought for its new $6 million cultural hub after a two-year search.

Work on the facility is likely to begin in 12 to 18 months time, at a site on the corner of Regent and High Streets in the middle of town, South Taranaki Mayor, Ross Dunlop said.

The facility is a key project in the the South Taranaki District Council's plan to revitalise the town centre.

The two existing buildings - which currently house Gelato Cafe, Dimocks Furniture and Bliss Beauty Retreat - will be demolished and a new complex including a bigger library, meeting rooms, public toilets, an art gallery and heritage exhibition space, the i-SITE information centre and a cafe, will go up in its place. 

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Dunlop said the purchase was a highlight of his time as mayor.

"We just had the changing of the TSB Trust boundaries, that's been a real thrill, and this is up there with that. It's very, very positive for South Taranaki and particularly the Hawera CBD."

In more good news, paying for the estimated $6m project would have no impact on rates.

Dunlop said the council was funding part of the project project by way of loans, which would be paid back from annual drawdowns from the council€'s Long Term Investment Fund. Part of the cost would be sought from outside funding organisations.

The cost of the building was confidential until the final settlement in February, STDC chief executive Craig Stevenson said.

"We believe this was a very good deal as not only was this our preferred location but we were able to get it below valuation. The site is approximately 5000 square metres of prime CBD real estate and is far bigger than we will need for the new facility."

The council would look at options including subdividing the property, redevelopment or joint ventures with private enterprise.

Stevenson said securing the site was a real milestone.

"I think it will give it [the town centre strategy] a real shot in the arm, it will be a significant development right in the town centre."

Having all the facilities under one roof would bring much needed foot traffic, visitors and vibrancy to the town centre, he said.

"It will be a nicer environment, a more connected environment, one that's more pleasant to visit and live in."

Stevenson said he was excited about the new development.

"When the council sets out a master plan like its town centre strategy, there are some things you can control and some you can't.

"Obviously a big part of the strategy was to encourage more private investment and that's starting to happen. We're developing Campbell Lane and there is a brand new building going up along side it." 

Work is expected to be finished on Campbell Lane, in late March 2017, with the Butcher's Lane project starting about the same time. The two lanes will link the main street to free council carparks.

 - Stuff

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