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Waitakere City makes an investment in future

March 17, 2003

City makes an investment in future

Waitakere City Council has decided to build its new civic centre in Henderson Valley Rd.

Last year the Council decided to consolidate all of its operations under one roof-in a move that will save around $1.6 million a year in rents and internal duplication (the Council's operations are currently spread across 7 different buildings in the Lincoln Rd area).

The possibility of the Council moving has been mooted for a number of years and the Council had initially looked at a joint venture development with Unitec in the Ratanui St/Trading Pl area. However recently the old Carter Holt Harvey site in Henderson Valley Rd became available after a proposed residential development failed to go-ahead. Because of its larger size and the ability to off-set costs with other developments on site, easier traffic access and parking and close proximity to the railway station and shops, the Council opted for Henderson Valley Rd instead.

Work is expected to be completed in 2006.

A new City library in Trading Pl will also be built, with Unitec as a joint development partner. This will also open in 2006 at an estimated cost of $11.3 m.

The developments in Henderson will be a major catalyst for future growth.

The move is seen as a major statement of confidence in Henderson as the central business district of Waitakere City, adding to the current levels of confidence already being shown in the area.

Mayor Bob Harvey says that the Council has been a catalyst for major growth in places like Te Atatu, New Lynn and Titirangi over the past few years. "And that's what we want to see in Henderson."

"It's no coincidence that the major banks, educational institutions like Unitec, government departments and so on are already in the middle of Henderson. It makes good economic sense and it benefits their customers. That's what we are aiming for too."

Already, Unitec has reacted to the Council's decision by announcing it will invest $18 million in expanding its Waitakere City campus to accommodate 2,500 students by 2006.

A move into the town centre will bring more jobs and thousands of dollars to local businesses. It also means long term savings for ratepayers as the Council can provide more efficient services under one roof. The new Civic Building will be closer to public transport routes, have more parking and be much more accessible to the public.

The Council's chief executive, Harry O'Rourke says the savings on rents and other efficiencies from being under one roof will amount to around $1.6 million per year. "And that goes a long way towards off-setting interests payments and depreciation on the new building for example."

The new Civic Building will take up about a third of the Henderson Valley Road site. The remainder will be developed by the Council's property arm, Waitakere Properties Limited, incorporating apartments, commercial buildings and possibly a hotel, with the aim of further reducing development costs of the Civic Centre.

Mr O'Rourke says that use of the site by the film industry prior to construction will also offset costs.

Financial considerations

Exact costings for the Henderson development will come back to the Council for final approval. However they are projected to be between $25.5 million to $29.5 million, net, after the sale or development of the 2 hectares not used for the civic centre and the sale of the present building in Waipareira Ave.

That equates to $5.60 a year per ratepayer (over the cost of refurbishing the Waipareira Ave site).

Decision Backed

One of the major benefits of the site is that it will provide the opportunity to "unlock" Henderson's potential by creating links over the rail line to connect Henderson Valley Road, the Corban Estate, the railway station, the main street and the mall.

The move is backed by the likes of:

- Moka Restaurant, owner Leza Corban: "Foot traffic is what the main street needs and council staff and customers and more UNITEC students and library users mean that local businesses will have a solid base of new customers."

- John Widdup, CEO of the Westfield New Zealand Ltd, owners of WestCity Shopping town - Waitakere City's biggest retail operation and one of the largest in New Zealand: "It maximises the existing investment that has been made by the community in the infrastructure of the Henderson central business area. This development will help compliment all the existing businesses that are located within the Henderson central business area and the Council is to be congratulated on their decision."

- John Newick, long-time local businessman and former Henderson business Association head: "Everyone wins. Ratepayers get the benefits of improved efficiency and businesses get the benefit of more potential customers. It is very encouraging to see the Council leading by example by relocating to a commercial centre. This is a very good signal to all businesses in Waitakere City that Council is becoming not only customer friendly, but also business friendly. A developing partnership between Council and business has to be good for growth in employment and therefore prosperity for everyone."

- UNITEC president Dr John Webster: "We have been working very closely with the Council. Our shared aim is to raise the level of tertiary education participation in the region, by providing courses and qualifications that the people of Waitakere want. The collaborative library project will enable us to better serve the local community and will also contribute to the development of a vibrant and prosperous city centre."

The move is also backed by Auckland Regional Transport Network Ltd chairman, Ross Keenan, who has indicated that development of the Henderson Valley Rd site could see a fast-track of rail improvements, including funding for an upgrade of the Henderson station.

The new station will be developed as the core of an integrated public transport hub and this matched by better rail and bus services will make public transport more attractive and accessible.

Mr Keenan says Waitakere City has continually demonstrated its leadership in innovating and implementing ideas to increase the use of passenger rail transport.


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