Preliminary inner city plans revealed

    From left, HWCP company directors Scott O'Donnell and Lindsay Thomas, Batchelar McDougall Consulting director Graham McDougall and Buchan Group architect James Burgess at a media briefing at Invercargill's Meccaspresso last week. Photo: Sanda Jukic

    TWO Invercargill heritage-listed buildings are destined for demolition as part of the proposed plans for an inner city block set for redevelopment, tenants were told at a briefing last week.

    “We are not wanting to fight heritage, but there have got to be some trade-offs,” HWCP director Scott O’Donnell said.

    HWCP Management Ltd, which owns all but three properties in the block between Tay and Esk Sts and Dee and Kelvin Sts, plans to build a multi-million dollar covered complex for retail, entertainment and hospitality, encompassing the block.

    HWCP is a joint venture between Invercargill City Property Ltd, owned by the Invercargill City Council’s Holdco and HWR Property Ltd, part of HW Richardson Group, set up last year to advance developments in the CBD aligned with the Southland Regional Development Strategy.

    Mr O’Donnell said the Kelvin Hotel, the restored Bank of New South Wales building and Reading Cinemas would be retained, but all other buildings in the block, including the heritage-listed Government Life building on the corner of Esk and Dee Sts and the former Southland Times’ building, would be demolished.

    Engineers estimated it would cost $1.4 million to retain The Southland Times’ building facade, he said.

    The facade incorporated into the Spotlight building on Leven St was an example of how badly it could look, he said.

    “It looks plain stupid and doesn’t add value. That will be what will happen with The Southland Times’ building. It wouldn’t relate to anything else in the block.

    “Could we not spend that $1.4m somewhere else in town and do a better job?”

    The Government Life building, like many in the inner city, had not been well-maintained, was below building standards and would likely collapse in an earthquake, Mr O’Donnell said.

    “The Government Life building is so far gone, it is unrepairable.”

    The preliminary plans include a new HWR tower, containing offices and apartments, a second office precinct, a medical centre, an up-scale food court/restaurant space, shopping centre with an anchor retail tenant and covered parking for 950 vehicles.

    Inner city project to increase foot traffic

    Mr O’Donnell said the ultimate goal of the project was to increase foot traffic in the CBD, and the two office towers and medical centre were key elements of the project which would bring about 1500 people into the inner city each day.

    The anchor retail tenant had not yet been finalised, he said.

    “There are no contracts at this stage. We are working with a large number of retailers to fill that space.”

    Mr O’Donnell said leases within the complex would range from $350-$700/sqm a year, which were comparable with retailers on the south side of Esk St who were currently paying about $250-$500/sqm, where there was little foot traffic.

    Southland businesses would be incorporated into the complex “if possible”, but the development had to be commercial and a place which would bring something new and different to the retail experience, he said.

    The consultation and consenting process was expected to occur in June/July, with demolition expected to start later in the year and construction to begin mid next year.

    The first buildings were expected to be tenanted as early as 2021.


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