Monday, May 27, 2024

Green light for new Tauranga precinct

Tauranga City Council’s Commission today gave the final green light to forge ahead with the most significant investment in community facilities the city may ever see.

To be called Te Manawataki o Te Papa – the heartbeat of Te Papa – Council says the new civic precinct will see the development of a new library and community hub, civic whare (community meeting house), museum and exhibition gallery on the central city block bounded by Wharf, Willow, Harington and Durham streets in the city centre.

Upgrades to Baycourt and Tauranga Art Gallery, along with associated landscape and waterfront improvements will also add to a greatly enhanced environment, it said.

Having considered the updated designs and costs for Te Manawataki o Te Papa at today’s Council meeting, along with the business case and financial strategy, the Commissioners approved proceeding with the full programme of works.

“Our community has told us time and time again that they want to see the heart of our city centre brought back to life,” says Commission Chair Anne Tolley.

“Having considered all of the information put before us today, we are certain that the case for Te Manawataki o Te Papa stacks up and this is the right thing to do for the people of Tauranga. It’s time for action and today marks the start of that.”

Ms Tolley said the business case, which was also approved at today’s Council meeting, tells a story of a city centre reimagined, and clearly outlines the significance and multitude of benefits the transformative development will create for the city, its residents and wider subregion.

“In economic terms, the business case tells us that Te Manawataki o Te Papa is expected to increase the present value of local and regional economic output by around $500 million, with wider benefits totalling a further $500 million over the life of the buildings,” she said.

“It will also encourage greater inclusiveness, a sense of belonging and cultural awareness and identity, and in that regard, the museum and library and community hub facilities are expected to have a considerable impact, with over 300,000 and 800,000 visits respectively each year.”

Ms Tolley said the development will help to revitalise the city centre, with an expected tripling of visitor numbers, to 5,500 people a day, or 2,000,000 visits a year, by 2035. By comparison, current foot traffic counts in The Strand and Wharf Street area in the city centre are around 1,600 people a day.

Commissioner Stephen Selwood says along with the economic benefits, Te Manawataki o Te Papa will bring with it a raft of intangible and community amenity benefits.

“The social, cultural and environmental benefits are also important factors and will provide a fundamental foundation for the city,” he said.

“Te Manawataki o Te Papa and the museum in particular create a tremendous opportunity to help us to share the stories and history of Tauranga, which are an important and significant part of New Zealand’s history.”

The Commissioners also approved Council’s recommended financial strategy for bringing Te Manawataki o Te Papa to life.

With a total approved project budget of $306.3 million, the financial strategy aims to ensure Council can keep to its commitment of capping community’s rates-funded debt to a maximum of $151.5 million.

The strategy includes maximising external funding sources, such as grants and development contributions, and shows there are a variety of funding paths and backstop funding options if required.

“There is more work to be done, especially with regards to regional contributions, but we feel confident that a sound financial strategy exists and there is sufficient funding available to proceed,” Ms Tolley says.

“TECT’s recent approval of a $21 million grant towards Te Manawataki o Te Papa – the Trust’s largest-ever contribution to a single project – represents a huge step towards achieving the project’s wider investment targets. Together with the $12.1 million in central Government Better-Off funding we received last year, this puts us in a good position to reach our goals and we will be leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to secure the financing required.”

Construction of Te Manawataki o Te Papa is expected to kick off in earnest early next year, with the library and community hub the first building set to be developed. All going to plan, the full programme of works is expected to be completed by the end of 2028.

Latest Articles