Monday, July 15, 2024

Wellington Town Hall redevelopment budget blows out

Wellington City Councillors have today agreed to increase the Town Hall strengthening and development budget by between $70 million and $147 million.

The Council voted to complete the Town Hall earthquake-strengthening and redevelopment project.

Wellington Mayor, Tory Whanau says while she is disappointed that extra funds are required to complete the project, she is pleased with the outcome given the building’s significance to the Wellington community.

“Previous councils knew that fixing and redeveloping the Town Hall would be a challenging, expensive project given it’s a fragile heritage building standing on reclaimed land – making it one of Aotearoa’s most complicated construction projects,” the Mayor said.

“Fast-forward to this term and we are now over halfway through the work. Once completed it’ll provide a state-of-the-art music performance and recording venue that will be the pride of Pōneke.”

Councillors were briefed that the option of halting the project and mothballing the building, or demolishing it, would be incredibly difficult due to the Town Hall’s heritage listing, consenting constraints, and the cost of not proceeding.

Officers advised Councillors that with $182 million already invested, the cost of mothballing the project – if it were possible without consenting and heritage constraints – would result in at least $204 million spent but without a new, earthquake-strengthened Town Hall and centre for music in Wellington.

“When the project was commissioned in 2019 the Council of the day was told it would be one of the most complex and risky projects undertaken in recent times in New Zealand. In light of this, the project has relied on strong external, independent advice and assurance throughout,” the council said in a statement.

It’s envisaged that the redevelopment will turn the facility into a world-class musical and recording venue with improved rehearsal and performance space, outstanding acoustics and orchestral recording facilities.

It is intended it be a base for civic and community events and part of a centre of musical excellence for New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) and home to Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music Te Kōkī, the Council said.

Opened in 1904, the Town Hall was declared quake-prone in 2009. It was closed in 2013 following the Seddon earthquake, with strengthening work starting in 2019.

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