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Auckland's St James Theatre Restoration Gets $1.5m Grant

St James Theatre restoration gets government boost

"Im thrilled that the restoration of the iconic St James Theatre in Auckland can continue moving forward with approval for an initial grant from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage through the Heritage EQUIP scheme". - Steve Bielby, Principal Trustee - Auckland Notable Properties Trust

Ministry of Culture and Heritage has approved an application made by the owners of the St James Theatre for a $1.5m Grant to go towards strengthening the foundations of the much treasured Auckland theatre. This will sit alongside commitments already confirmed by Council to contribute $15m towards the structural upgrade of the building.

The Theatre is owned by St James Holdings which is majority owned by the Auckland Notable Properties Trust. The redevelopment of the theatre is seperate to the adjacent multi-story apartment block and commercial activities planned for the neighbouring site.

Queen Street’s St James Theatre is one of the last two iconic early 20th Century theatres in Auckland and is scheduled as a Category A heritage building in the Auckland Unitary Plan and is listed as an historic building under Heritage New Zealand.

"I would like to sincerely thank everyone involved for all the hard work which has got this project to where it is, especially for the ongoing support of our local MP Hon Nikki Kaye. It is my hope that we can preserve this historic theatre for the future generations of Auckland to enjoy".

Government approving this application to the Heritage EQUIP fund means St James Holdings can now move forward with confirming and formalising councils already committed $15m towards the project and furthering an application to the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund.

It is estimated that restoration costs will be in the vicinity of $67 million for the total restoration. Initial remediations of walls have been completed along with investigation and site establishment works, site activities are now winding down while the final building consent and detail design processes and fundraising stages are completed.

St James Holdings has proposed the restoration to be in two stages. Stage one involves structural upgrades, including earthquake strengthening, and envelope upgrades, and essential services reinstatement/replacement including electrical, water and fire protection.

Stage two would be the reinstatement of the finishes, fittings and remaining services, such as air-conditioning and backstage equipment and the restoration of the dress and upper circle

At the completion of the stage one works, the ground floor space would have limited operational use, being capable of holding concerts, events and performances there. It is hoped that stage two of the restoration could be considered whenever other funding becomes available. It is envisaged that an application under the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund will now be worked through with the Ministry and the owner which could see stage one and two completed simultaneously.

Steve Bielby, Principal Trustee, Auckland Notable Properties Trust says;

“This commitment will go a long way in helping get the St James back to its former glory and I look forward to working alongside ministry officials over the coming weeks to finalise the arrangements of this grant and progressing to an additional grant under the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund”.

Built in 1928, the St James was originally designed for vaudeville acts. Its architect Henry Eli White also designed the St James Theatre in Wellington. It closed in 2007 because of safety concerns it reopened briefly to reinvigorate Auckland's support for restoring the building in 2015.


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