Otakaro yet to divest ownership of completed anchor projects

The Colombo St bus interchange was completed in 2015 but has not yet transferred to council ownership.
MYLES HUME / STUFF

The Colombo St bus interchange was completed in 2015 but has not yet transferred to council ownership.

Crown company Otakaro Limited is still maintaining property it was supposed to hand over to permanent owners months ago.

Chief executive Albert Brantley said the company did not spend "anywhere near" enough time on the transfer process while building its first projects.

He said future transfers would be simpler and faster.

Complex contract agreements and land amalgamation has held up transferring the Margaret Mahy playground to the ...
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON / STUFF

Complex contract agreements and land amalgamation has held up transferring the Margaret Mahy playground to the Christchurch City Council.

The company is yet to give the Christchurch City Council possession of the Avon River Terraces or the Colombo St bus interchange.

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THE BUS INTERCHANGE

The Avon River Terraces are open to the public, but await a late delivery of special lights.
JOSEPH JOHNSON / STUFF

The Avon River Terraces are open to the public, but await a late delivery of special lights.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority finished the bus interchange in 2015.

An Otakaro spokesman said the company was managing the interchange "until a decision is made on its ownership".

The 2013 cost-sharing agreement between the council and the Government said the interchange would be owned by the council or private sector.

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial opened in February.
STACY SQUIRES/STUFF

The Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial opened in February.

Council general manager of strategy and transformation Brendan Anstiss said the council had budgeted in its long-term plan to own and operate the facility.

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He said the council would pay its $23m share of the bus interchange "when the Crown is ready to transfer ownership".

Kelvan Smith, director of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet's Greater Christchurch Group, said the Government was in ongoing discussions with the council about contributions and ownership of projects in the cost-sharing agreement, which included the bus interchange.

In the meantime, Otakaro is paying operational costs on the building and collecting rent from its tenants.

Brantley said $1.3 million per year was built into the company's budget when it was created to operate the interchange for three years.

AVON RIVER TERRACES

Otakaro planned to transfer the Avon River Terraces before Christmas last year. It is paying $9000 a month in upkeep while waiting on late delivery of special lights to finish the project.

"There's no reason not to open it to the public," he said, but Otakaro would not transfer it to the council until it was complete.

EARTHQUAKE MEMORIAL

Otakaro originally planned to transfer the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage "as soon as practical" after the February 22, 2017 opening.

Brantley said Otakaro was overseeing repair of minor defects to the railing before the transfer.

"It's not a big issue, but it's issues that have to get done."

The Ministry is paying for operations and maintenance while the transfer is completed.

MARGARET MAHY FAMILY PLAYGROUND

Otakaro partially transferred the Margaret Mahy Family Playground to the council last month, more than half a year after its original plan.

The council was paying operational costs, but the full transfer would not happen until all the paperwork was in order, Brantley said.

He said the transfer was complex because contracts with different parties – such as equipment suppliers, donors, and artists – had to be transferred as well.

Brantley said Land Information New Zealand was amalgamating the several land titles the playground sits on.

"We both, ourselves and the council, underestimated the amount of work," Brantley said.

The two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding in April that standardised future asset transfers, which Brantley said would be "a lot easier".

He said Otakaro would address transfer-related administration during construction rather than at the end.

 - Stuff

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