Hadlow wants to turn Odeon into NoeDo

BY CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2009
Hadlow
Dean Kozanic
GRAND VISION: Actor Mark Hadlow stands in the dilapidated Odeon Theatre which he would like to be transformed into a vibrant performing arts centre

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A grand vision to save the Odeon Theatre and create a $60 million arts complex has been unveiled in Christchurch.

Christchurch actor and director Mark Hadlow took to the Odeon Theatre stage last night to recite Shakespeare and outline plans to restore the venue and build a two-storey arts complex on the car-park site next door.

The plan to create Christchurch's "very own Guggenheim" has no funding.

However, Hadlow hopes the proposal will unite the city's arts organisations.

"I am tired of our complacency.

"Talking and talking and talking and never doing anything. We are very good at that," he said.

"It is an enormous project. It needs complete buy-in across the board and it needs the public to buy into it."

The two-storey "NoeDo" building on the car-park site would house Christchurch arts organisations and rehearsal space for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, along with commercial office space.

Hadlow has called his proposal "The NoeDo Concept" as it spells Odeon backwards, and the scheme has "no dough".

Hadlow also said a new theatre space could be built at the back of the Odeon to create a possible new home for the Court Theatre, which is considering moving out of the Arts Centre.

The NoeDo building was designed by Christchurch architectural designer Nick Yardley, who based the facade on Gothic buildings in Christchurch.

The 132-year-old Tuam St building is up for mortgagee sale by Allied Nationwide Finance. Tenders closed on December 10, with a decision expected early next year.

The theatre was bought by property developer David Henderson for $1.3 million in 2006.

First mortgagee Allied Nationwide Finance has ordered the sale.

Hadlow said he was frustrated the theatre had not been restored.

"How was this ever allowed to happen? I have no idea. If it is just left to rot, they will have to demolish," he said.

He said if people experienced a concert in the theatre they would understand its value.

"It is a classic catch-22 situation," he said.

"If we got an audience in here for a concert by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, people would see what we have got, but no-one will come here because it is full of pigeon poo and the seats are falling apart and it's not earthquake-proof," he said.

The new development would also help revitalise the city's southern area.

Allied Nationwide Finance chief executive John Mallon said he hoped the building could be restored.

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"It would be great for Christchurch if it could be restored to its former glory, and there are a number of parties who would love to do that."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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