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Council prefers Orion site for new Civic Offices

Council prefers Orion site for new Civic Offices

The Orion site in central Christchurch is the City Council's preferred
option for a new headquarters.

Mayor Garry Moore says the site is a large one and offers scope to
create an appropriate civic centre. Its location, in the east of the
central city, will also contribute to a council goal of working to
revitalise the blocks from the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of
Technology up to and around Latimer Square.

"It's very pleasing that the council has settled on this site," Mr Moore
says. "It has three street frontages and with the Centennial Pool north
across Armagh there's an opportunity to provide a strong linkage to the
Avon River. It's a sound choice and I'm looking forward to seeing the
preliminary design ideas when they come through."

Through Christchurch City Holdings Ltd, the city council has an 89.275
per cent holding in the electricity network management company Orion New
Zealand Ltd. The remaining shares belong to Selwyn District Council and
a transparent transaction relating to the site acquisition will be
arranged to ensure fairness to all shareholders.

Orion's board had previously indicated that it is prepared to work with
the council in redeveloping its site on the western end of the block
bounded by Armagh, Manchester and Gloucester streets, including where
the council's existing car park stands on the corner of Manchester and
Gloucester streets.

Councillors have asked staff to consider linkages between the site and
the Centennial Pool land when considering development options.

A new central city office for about 1000 of the council's staff is
needed because the current Tuam Street centre, built as a department
store in the 1930s, is fast approaching the end of its life as suitable
office accommodation. The Council has for some time directed that
nothing but necessary maintenance be done on it.

In February the council looked at ownership options for new premises and
decided it preferred an arrangement where the new building would be
developed and owned by a council-controlled company and leased back to
the council.

Last year, the council called for registrations of interest from
landowners who believed their properties would suit the Council's
purposes. The Orion site was one of these.


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