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Te Aro icon 'Bodega' to be relocated

Transit New Zealand Wellington Regional Office

2 June 2005

Te Aro icon 'Bodega' to be relocated

One of Te Aro's most recognised landmarks, the former Bar Bodega building, is to be relocated next week to a site very close to its current location on the corner of Willis and Abel Smith streets, to make room for the new Wellington Inner City Bypass route.

Best known as 'Bodega', a popular Wellington entertainment venue in the 1990s, it will be prepared for its move, 25 metres north along Willis Street, on Tuesday. It will be sited on a new foundation pad next to the two green heritage shops relocated last month and is the fifth of 17 buildings to be relocated.

Transit project manager Jonnette Adams says that extensive work has been carried out to strengthen the building prior to its relocation.

"Bar Bodega is a building that Wellingtonian's have a special affiliation with and we are taking special care to ensure it is safely moved to its new location," she said.

"Once it is moved next week some of its original features, like its authentic bull-nosed verandah and unique tile frontage, can be reinstated and restoration can get underway," Ms Adams said.

Relocation of historic buildings is being undertaken as part of the Wellington Inner City Bypass construction project, due to be completed by mid 2007.

History of Bar Bodega

A string of chemists first traded out of the Edwardian corner shop, now known as the former Bar Bodega, on the corner of Willis and Abel Smith Streets.

Heritage inventories at the Wellington City Council Library show that Bodega was built around 1890 and first occupied by chemist Robert Burn in 1894. Successive chemists used the premises to ply their trade until the early 1920's.

A variety of small businesses, including fruiterers and tobacconists, used the premises from the 1920s until 1937, while the upstairs accommodation was divided into small flats.

In 1937, John Lindberg converted the ground floor into a butchery and it remained in that usage off-and-on for 54 years. It is probably during this conversion that the tiled mural was installed on the building's façade. This mural is being conserved and will be reinstated as part of the shop's restoration. Among butcheries in the building were Boyd's Quality Butchers and McKnight Meats.

The National Roads Board (now Transit New Zealand) acquired ownership in 1981 for roading purposes. A decade later, Fraser McInnes leased the building and opened a popular café/bar and live performance venue - Bodega. This business has now shifted to new premises in Ghuznee Street.

The heritage inventory shows Bodega as a rusticated weatherboard building with an authentic bull-nosed veranda, cast iron posts wrapping around the corner and a prominent parapet. It describes the shop as having "large representative significance as a typical small retail building of its period".

The rear of the shop, added on in the 1990's, was demolished in March to prepare the original building for relocation. Once restored, the shop will again be available for use.

About the Wellington Inner City Bypass

The Wellington Inner City Bypass will provide a safer, more efficient route between the southern and eastern suburbs and the northern gateway to Wellington. It will re-route cross-city traffic away from Ghuznee Street and the heart of the inner city and Cuba Street area.

It is a one-way, two-lane road at ground level, with dedicated turning lanes and a 50km/h speed limit (until just past the Willis Street intersection, heading north, where the speed limit will increase to 80km/h and the road will be gradually lowered beneath Vivian Street). Existing roads will be altered and redefined, and 700 metres of new road will be constructed along with 1080 metres of new footpath and cycleway.

A total of 22 heritage buildings are to be preserved as part of the project at an estimated cost of $3million. Of these, five will remain in place and 17 relocated and restored, with one taken down and reconstructed using materials still in good condition.

Buildings of similar age and style will be kept together, preserved and restored with their original orientation and access maintained wherever possible. A historic precinct will be created adjoining Footscray Avenue for those we have to move.

Transit will install three new sets of traffic signals, build a new motorway on-ramp at Willis/Abel Smith Streets and move the current motorway off-ramp from Ghuznee Street to Vivian Street. A new link between Cuba Street and Willis Street will also be created.

Wellington City Council's Te Aro Stormwater main will start at the Taranaki St end of Arthur St, progress along the northern side of Arthur St, across Cuba St and along the route of the bypass until Willis Street, where the main will be laid up Palmer Street to Te Aro Park.

Construction of the bypass is expected to be completed mid 2007.


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