Radio House will become a media hub when ArrowFM and Masterton Foodbank move in. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON
A media hub will be formed in Masterton after shop owners and tenants at the Empire Lodge were asked to leave in the wake of the sale of the building.
Chain store Big Save Furniture bought the lodge and its northern neighbour from former Masterton mayor Garry Daniell two weeks ago.
ArrowFM radio and Masterton Foodbank have found new homes in the Radio House building on Church St, owned by Masterton Trust Lands Trust.
The radio will share space with Wairarapa TV to form a media hub for the community.
ArrowFM general manager Michael Wilson said relocating to the purpose-built radio studio was affordable with no loss of service or extra set-up costs.
“We’re really excited by the opportunities that have arisen from what was an adverse turn of events last month,” he said.
Wairarapa TV founder Toby Mills said the channel “never really had a home” so it was exciting to have a location for the community to visit.
Masterton Foodbank co-ordinator Lyn Tankersley said she was delighted the community had supported the move.
“We’ve had so many offers of help and the transition should be quite simple as we just moving around the corner,” she said.
Trust chairwoman Leanne Southey said the trust had been able to move quickly and come up with a mutually-beneficial arrangement for ArrowFM, the Foodbank and the trust.
Big Save Furniture managing director Tom McKimm said the company would take possession on October 1 and it was hoped to have the store open by May next year.
The new store will createfrom 10 to 15 new jobs, and there would be additional staff in the new café.
All tenants had been given until September 22 to vacate the two earthquake-prone buildings before they are demolished.
Empire Lodge accommodation, ArrowFM, Taste Cafe, Wairarapa Vapez, Discount Specialist on Queen St, and the Masterton Foodbank at the rear of the building, are the six businesses affected.
Taste Cafe owners Margie and Dean Lawton said they were keen to take up Big Save’s offer to run the cafe in its new store.
McKimm said it was “brilliant” to have secured a main street position.
“The problem with furniture is that it is bulky, and you need enough space to display it – usually you have to be out of town or in a bulky retail park.
“A lot of big retailers have moved out of central areas, and that ruins the downtown vibe, so we are trying to bring that vibe back, have the cafe and have interactive displays.”
Empire Lodge accommodation owner Bill Shand said the building’s closure was a good time for him and his wife, Helen, to retire after owning the business since 2004.
The accommodation is home to 12 permanent residents.
Social Development Ministry regional commissioner Katie Brosnahan said she hoped to have more information for the residents next week.
Wairarapa Vapez manager Brendon Olsen has been struggling to find a new space near “foot traffic” that did not have high rents.
He would continue to keep looking but had considered closing altogether, he said.
Discount Specialist owner Shen Dong said she was also still looking for a new location for her tobacco store.