Sir Peter Jackson's final 'vision' for movie museum still to be sent to council
More than a year after plans for a $150 million movie museum were approved, its high-profile backers are finally close to submitting resource consent applications.
The project has been mired in delay as the interior plans have been developed, and there are concerns the cost to ratepayers could rise as the vision grows.
Hailed as a potential game-changer for Wellington's tourism industry, the museum and convention centre was tipped for completion in 2018 when council funding was approved in mid-2016.
But The Movie Museum Ltd (TMML), a company jointly owned by film moguls Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor, admits developing plans for the interior of the building has taken "much longer" than expected.
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Final plans for the fitout have still not been seen by the Wellington City Council, which is paying for the construction of the building. TMML will cover the internal costs of the museum.
"The complexity of fitting the creative vision for the museum into this space has been significant and challenging," TMML project director George Hickton said in a statement.
"We are, however, close to completing that phase, which will help us and WCC to progress the other elements of the project."
Although plans for the museum remain under wraps, the apparent cost to Jackson suggests it will be extravagant.
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said on Monday that the Lord of the Rings director's costs had gone from an initially planned $30 million to about $50m, "and potentially slightly more".
Lester said he hoped a resource consent for the much-vaunted project could be submitted within a fortnight, but the timing was in the hands of TMML, which was yet to submit final plans to the council.
"We've done our bit, we're ready to go."
The council wanted to get on with the building as soon as possible, but given the scale of the project and the "creative genius" being brought to the museum, the delays were immaterial, he said.
"We're prepared to wait as long as it takes for Movie Museum Limited, for Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor to nail their design internally."
Although Lester said he had received no formal advice that the cost of the project would have escalated, construction costs generally appear to be increasing significantly in the capital, with a number of large projects now under way.
"Given the level of construction activity that we've got in Wellington, I think we've seen a fairly significant increase in building costs."
It was possible that Jackson's "vision" for the site could increase the complexity and cost of the building itself. While such costs would typically fall on a building's tenant, Lester said, it could push up costs faced by ratepayers.
"Until such time as we get to the building consent stage, we won't know."
The project currently had a budget of $200 million, including the contribution of TMML, and "at this stage" that was what the council was focused on.
If the cost of the project was to increase, councillors would be asked for approval.
"For any significant variation, above and beyond what was already agreed at council, we'd need to come back" for the council to approve a higher budget, Lester said.