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Building Upgrade For Manawatu Standard

Building Upgrade For Manawatu Standard

Tuesday February 1

The Manawatu Standard’s buildings are to undergo a major refurbishment following a decision that the newspaper will retain its central city location overlooking The Square.

Fairfax New Zealand Ltd, owners and publishers of the Manawatu Standard, announced today that it had reached an agreement with Wallace Development Company which will cement the Standard’s existing position in Palmerston North.

The Standard’s huge site, which includes eight buildings and also has entrances from Fitzherbert Avenue, has been sold to Wallace Development Company. The Standard will remain as the leading tenant occupying about half the site with the rest being tenanted by WDC.

Fairfax NZ Chief Executive Brian Evans said the tenancy agreement underscored the company’s commitment to the Standard and to the Palmerston North and Manawatu community. The agreement followed an investigation of other sites where the newspaper publishing businesses could have relocated.

“At the end of the day the existing site has a position and profile right on The Square which is far superior to any of the alternative sites that were looked at,” Mr Evans said.

``A top quality refurbishment of the buildings will bring working conditions for our employees up to the best level,” Mr Evans said.

The refurbishment will include moving the Stylex commercial printing business from the front of the complex to a building at the rear. All other departments – Editorial, Advertising, Newspaper Sales, Administration and Finance – will shift into a new, purpose-designed environment.

WDC managing director Jonathan Wallace said plans for the Standard’s buildings include a new façade on the buildings fronting the Square which will also have other retail and commercial tenants. Two small old buildings will be demolished to provide further space for carparking.

Manawatu Standard General Manager Paul Elenio welcomed the agreement signed with WDC.

“This is the culmination of many months’ work and negotiation. I am delighted that Fairfax has expressed such confidence in the paper and the area by agreeing to the sale and tenancy and by committing a large amount of money on upgrading the IT infrastructure and on refurbishment.

“Visitors to the Standard know that we don’t have the ideal environment at the moment – it is a typical newspaper publishing complex added on to and expanded over many years and we need to consolidate and upgrade. All the staff will be looking forward to a new environment,” Mr Elenio said.

Among the changes will be the replacement of old computer technology with PCs for Editorial and Classified Advertising staff.

Investigative and planning work completed for the building changes to date has been done by architectural firm Gaze Commercial and engineers Beca Carter Hollings and Ferner under the direction of project managers Impact Project Management Ltd.

Impact has been appointed to look after the Manawatu Standard’s interests in the project, particularly ensuring that the business of producing a daily newspaper can continue unaffected while construction work goes on.

Director Garth Palmer project managed building consolidation and redevelopment projects for The Dominion Post in 2002-03 and was recently involved in the new retail centre built at Wellington Airport.

Wallace Development Company is finalising its plans before seeking building consents. It is expected that work will start on the first stage of the project in March and it is hoped that it will be completed by September, Mr Elenio said.

ENDS

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