There is no cheap option for the future of Masterton Town Hall.
The hefty cost of redevelopment would be followed by increases to urban residential rates of from $17 to $141 a year, and annual operating costs of from $177,000 to $1.5 million.
Even doing nothing would cost more than $171,000 a year, information made public to the Times-Age by Masterton District Council under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act reveals.
The documents show the council received seven options for the future of the site.
It considered only three for public consultation and rejected four that would have kept the building’s facade.
The site is made up of three buildings – the auditorium, municipal offices built in the 1950s which are attached to the facade, and an additional office block used for civil defence.
The three options for public consultation were:
- Demolishing all the buildings but not building a civic centre
- Demolishing and building a civic centre
- Demolishing only the auditorium and strengthening the other buildings and building a civic centre.
The proposals rejected were:
- Leaving the site as is without any work done on the buildings [estimated to cost $171,600 annually]. It was noted that the building “will continue to deteriorate and become a liability”
- Demolishing everything but the facade and not replacing the buildings [estimated to cost $3.2m. This would cost $291,000 annually and add $27 to rates]
- Demolish the auditorium and earthquake strengthen the other two buildings, but not build a civic/events centre. It would cost up to $6.5m
- Doing the same demolition and strengthening but building the civic centre would cost up to $16m.
The council included $15.5m in its long-term plan for future work on a civic centre – but the cost of demolishing all buildings, including the façade and building a new centre would now cost from $16.5m to $17.5m.
As well, annual operating costs of such a new centre would be $1.3m and urban residential rates would have to go up by $119.
Keeping the facade added to the costs.
The most expensive option – demolish the auditorium, strengthen the other two buildings while keeping the facade and building a new civic centre – was estimated to be from $21m to $22m. It would add $141 to rates, and have annual operating costs of $1.5m.
The future of the town hall as “one of the most talked about matters in Masterton”, council chief executive Kath Ross said.
It was a “complex project” with numerous options, that came with costs and benefits.
“For example, the facade is actually part of the adjoining building, not the town hall and is not original,” she said.
Cost was not the only element to consider.
“Certain options have an influence over what future development may be possible.
“For example, having a clean site with all buildings demolished provides more opportunity for design and footprint.”
The council said economic analysis had found low demand for an events centre on the site.
It is planning to provide a full consultation document after the local body elections in October.