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A step forward with Tauranga’s Civic Heart initiative

Media release
18 July 2016

A step forward with Tauranga’s Civic Heart initiative

Property Council welcomes Tauranga City Council’s Civic Heart initiative as a step forward in the urban renewal of Tauranga’s CBD.

“Everyone is well aware that the CBD cannot continue to drift and stagnate, something bold needs to be done. We need a plan to renew the CBD that capitalises on the economic and population growth that the city and wider Bay of Plenty region is experiencing”, said Andrew Collins, Property Council Bay of Plenty Branch President.

“As the cost of business, transport issues and housing affordability problems in Auckland continue, we expect to see increased interest from business in locating branch and back office functions in Tauranga CBD. This is due to the lower cost of operations, and the significantly more affordable cost of housing”.

Property Council supports the projects that make up the Civic Heart initiative and believes that they have the ability to start building the momentum the CBD needs to bring businesses and people back.

Mr Collins believes that “there is no doubt that the current Civic Administration building is beyond its use by date and is a health hazard with its toxic mould issues. Clearly the Council needs a new building that meets today’s and tomorrow’s needs while also anchoring the CBD and the other important civic heart projects”.

While the Property Council supports the initiative, Mr Collins notes that the option of Council building and owning the new civic administration building is not his favoured option. If Council does proceed with this option, he considers that it must carefully review its construction cost estimate.

“A cost of nearly $8000 per square metre, with a total cost of $64 million, does seem very expensive for the proposed new building and fit out. We urge the Council to have their estimates independently reviewed to ensure both value for money and an affordable cost.

Better still, I personally consider that the best option is for Council to keep the project off its balance sheet altogether by contracting with the private sector to build and own the building, which it would then lease. The leasing option would enable Council’s remaining debt headroom to be used for important infrastructure projects to avoid constraining Tauranga’s growth”.

Property Council understands that the new Council building will not, in itself, revitalise the CBD that’s where the other proposed civic heart projects come in. Mr Collins explains that “we certainly don’t want Council to procrastinate on the library, museum and performance venue projects which are important for the City’s ‘coming of age’, but we do understand the need for robust feasibility studies to be completed. These are big ticket items and it is prudent to thoroughly explore business cases and funding models before rushing in”.

“We all want a thriving and successful CBD, one that achieves its potential for businesses and the wider community. We need to make sure that the decisions we make today are the right ones for future generations”.

© Scoop Media

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