THE backers of the $180 million redevelopment of central Invercargill have cleared a major planning hurdle, leaving the money as the next big issue to sort out.
Independent commissioners have granted resource consent to demolish and replace 16 buildings, while retaining one complete building and the facades of three others.
Directors of the group behind the project, HWCP Management Ltd, were delighted with the news on Tuesday.
Invercargill city councillor and council-appointed director Lindsay Thomas said they were “pretty excited about it”.
“Barring any appeal process, we’re ready to start knocking down some buildings.”
The block is bounded by Esk, Tay, Dee and Kelvin Sts, with only the Bank of New South Wales building to be fully preserved.
The redevelopment is designed to reinvigorate the centre of Invercargill.
The council is consulting with ratepayers this month on whether or not they want to contribute a total of $30 million to the project.
Cr Thomas, who had no input to that debate and would not vote, said the directors were “quietly confident” the redevelopment would happen.
“It bodes positive for the city.”
He believed with the council’s share, funding of $80 million to $100 million was assured and he did not believe it would be “too difficult” to get a bank to provide the rest.
Director Geoffrey Thomson confirmed he would contribute $20 million, and with the granting of consent, expected two other as-yet-unnamed shareholders would be ready to announce their contribution in the next few weeks.
“I was very pleased to hear the result.
“t would have been a very sad day for Invercargill if it hadn’t happened because the city is in such bad shape.”
Mr Thomson said he had invested because he was born and bred in Invercargill and was passionate about the city.
“If we don’t do it, the city just really doesn’t have a future.”
Southland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sheree Carey said the chamber was “delighted” by the decision.
Commissioners John Maassen, Gina Sweetman and Jane Black set 52 conditions, several to do with the heritage buildings to be demolished or altered.
The developers must record buildings to Heritage New Zealand standards, the Bank of New South Wales building must be preserved and maintained, the brickwork on the Southland Times building facade must not be painted, heritage veranda posts are to be reused, and heritage fabric is to be salvaged.
Members of the public have 15 days to appeal.