City centre’s heritage buildings identified

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    CONCERNS have been raised around the high number of heritage listed buildings in Invercargill’s city centre, prompting questions as to whether it is feasible to restore them all.

    There are 166 buildings in the city centre which have been identified as having heritage value.

    Scott O’Donnell, of HWCP Management Ltd, which is behind the planned retail block for the CBD, believes 166 buildings would prove too costly for the people of Invercargill.

    He felt a more targeted approach around certain blocks was probably the best way to help ensure Invercargill retained historical elements.

    “Currently there are 166 buildings deemed as heritage buildings. Well, that is never going to work. This town does not have the ability to go and restore 166 buildings in your lifetime or my lifetime.

    Scott O’Donnell

    “My opinion is that the key thing that needs to be kept going are certain blocks… So we can say, ‘here is the stake in the ground, let’s go and find some funding to get those blocks working’.”

    Mr O’Donnell worked closely with Heritage New Zealand when drawing up plans for the proposed CBD block between Tay and Esk Sts.

    As a result the plan was to retain four historical facades in the block.

    It would come at a cost of $1.5 million for each facade. That provided some challenges, given that an investment of $6m would do little to help an overall return, Mr O’Donnell said.

    “It adds no value in terms of what rent you can charge your tenants. It is simply, can we do something with the heritage that works for all parties? The guys from Heritage New Zealand are good to deal with, though.”

    The Invercargill City Council has formed a City Heritage Steering Group which will review a draft city centre strategy.

    The group includes Deputy Mayor Rebecca Amundsen as well as councillors Alex Crackett and Lesley Soper.

    There was also room to co-opt people from the wider community, Cr Amundsen said.

    Cr Amundsen acknowledged the number of heritage buildings would be one of the many areas looked at by the group.

    “One of the tasks of the steering group is to consider how we should approach the number of buildings we have in the district plan.

    “Ultimately we want the council to be in a position to be strategic when considering the future of heritage buildings in Invercargill,” she said.

    “The purpose of the steering group is to go over the draft strategy and to refine it so that it represents the council’s view on heritage buildings and we plan to deal with them.”

    The planned construction in the city centre has sped up discussions around Invercargill’s heritage strategy.

    It also came at a time when earthquake-strengthening regulations have been put in place.

    regulations have placed timeframes on building owners for doing work on their buildings,” Cr Amundsen said.

    “On one hand this is good because it means that buildings could be fixed up sooner rather than later.

    “On the other hand it could also mean that building owners become unable to do work on their buildings. This could have a negative impact.

    “One of the reasons for the heritage strategy is to consider how the council might be able to help building owners and what that help might look like.”

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