Grand plans for old Wool Bar


AFTER being un›used for decades, the former Wool Bar at Invercargill’s Grand Hotel may be reborn as a community and arts space.
‘It’s a massive room and at the moment it’s just being used to store
stuff…’ Leasee Linda McGaw, whose fam› ily has owned the 103›year›old hotel since 2009, hopes a community committee will take over the space.
‘‘It’s a massive room and at the moment it’s just being used to store stuff… It would be a way for the hotel to grow organically.’’
The Grand was used as accommo› dation for Southern Institute of Technology students until early 2014, and since then the family had renovated and was operating a 51›bedroom accommodation busi› ness, she said.
Ms McGaw said she ‘‘threw out the fishing line’’ recently, approach› ing Rebecca Amundsen to see if there was anyone who might be interested in using the bar space.
Ms Amundsen, an Invercargill City councillor and community advocate, last year set up Innov8 Invercargill — a monthly forum where people share positive ideas for the city. Among the many topics debated so far has been how to fill empty shops and boost foot traffic in the CBD.
Having a community and arts space in the Grand would help fulfil that aim, and the room could become the regular venue for Innov8 forums, she said.
‘‘It could be used for regular meetings, one›off meetings, work› shops, exhibitions, launches and more. It could be used for whatever people want and need.’’
The model likely to be used was 17 Tory St, the space operated by a Wellington group called Concerned Citizens, she said.
Innov8 supporters had already been circulated about the idea and the response had been ‘‘amazing’’, she said. A public meeting was being held tonight to gauge wider support.
In the set›up phase, the room could be used at no cost, but Ms Amundsen said the goal was to be able to pay the McGaw family a reasonable rent/lease amount as soon as possible.
‘‘The key will be finding the balance between creating an access› ible and usable space for everyone and finding ways to generate some income so that covering the cost of a rent/lease is achieved. We hope an organic and flexible approach can be used to achieve this. Some out›of› the›box thinking will be required.’’ Í Community and art space public meeting, tonight, 5.30pm, Grand Hotel, Dee St. Entry from alleyway on the south side. For more informa› tion email or phone Rebecca Amundsen, 027 225 2664.Running SneakersSneakers