Ideas are in for what to do to Masterton’s town hall and municipal building. PHOTO/FILE

Council town hall wish list grows

Construction to start January 2020

PAM GRAHAM
pam.graham@age.co.nz

A hotel and apartments have popped up as options to be included in the redevelopment of the town hall and municipal building in Masterton.

The focus in consultation on the Masterton District Council’s Long Term Plan mentioned only a new civic centre, but within weeks council is talking about a hotel and “optionally apartments” in a wish list included in a call for registrations of interest from developers, which has now closed.

The council wants a 700-plus seater event centre and would prefer the existing façade of the building to be retained.

It has invited interest in developing “a civic precinct, preferably including a hotel, events centre, and multipurpose facility, and optionally apartments”.

The buildings were closed in 2016, having been deemed earthquake prone and not fit for purpose.

Their replacement is being sold to developers as a landmark opportunity in one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing provincial towns.

The council said in the registration documents it wanted credible developers involved – “We do not want theoretical proposals about abstract or speculative approaches to developing the property.”

It highlights the opportunities for a hotel.

“The development of a new hotel as part of this project is a unique opportunity to provide a complementary facility and provide the only hotel accommodation in the Masterton town centre,” the documents say.

It also refers to a possible cafe.

The call for expressions of interest closed on August 31.

Mayor Lyn Patterson said it was very early days and only expressions of interest were being sought.

It was the council saying: “Hey, is there any interest out there?”.

The council hopes to accept a proposal and business case by October, and have a memorandum of understanding and contract signed by December.

A concept design is expected to be developed by April 2019, and a public consultation will be completed by June, so the design can be signed off by July.

A contractor to build it would then be found by September 2019, with construction starting in January 2020, with the aim of completion by December that year.

The registration of interest refers to “purchase of or partnership with”, suggesting a sale or partnership with council is possible.

Options of ownership, lease and facility management are available.

The municipal offices are about 1400m2, made up of a 655m2 ground floor, and 752m2 upstairs, but they are likely to go.

Council wants a green, sustainable and affordable building – a building that contributes to the economy and will last for 50 to 80 years.

It wants the building to reflect the region’s bicultural heritage.

The civic facility needs to be able to be used for performing arts and conferences.

In the 2018-28 Long Term Plan, the council allocated $15.5 million for a “civic centre” on the town hall site.

Mayor Lyn Patterson has called it “arguably the most important project council is going to deliver for Masterton in the next 10 years”.

A person familiar with the assets, said the hotel would be best built facing the town square and Chapel Street, with the existing facade retained, and the idea of apartments might not be a goer.

When developer Dave Borman spoke at the council’s Long Term Plan hearings in May, he had a way to keep the town hall façade but build a new town hall venue.

The case for the new Civic Centre and hotel

  • Masterton District Council is the largest council in Wairarapa;
  • The economy is booming with growth of 4.3 per cent;
  • An increase in guest nights of 10 per cent;
  • Retail sales up 6.9 per cent;
  • An economy valued at $1.1 billion/less than two hours from Wellington city;
  • Masterton has a growing population and a new town centre strategy, including $3.6m of town centre redevelopment.
  • Source: Registrations of Interest document.