28 July 2016
A Momentum Waikato offer to facilitate a robust development process and convene $25m towards the design and build a new theatre will be further explored by Hamilton City Council.
At its monthly meeting today, the Council gave staff the go-ahead to progress discussions with Momentum Waikato, which has signalled it is keen to be the key partner in the development of a new theatre for the city.
The city's historic Founders Theatre has been closed since March due to safety concerns relating to its flying system. A subsequent independent engineer's report – known as a Detailed Seismic Assessment and undertaken by Dunning Thornton – also confirmed existing concerns over the theatre building's performance in the event of an earthquake. The theatre is operated by H3, the Council's event facilities arm.
H3 Executive Director Sean Murray says today's resolution – passed unanimously by the Council - gives staff "the green light" to progress discussions with Momentum Waikato around the opportunity of a new theatre.
During the recent submissions process relating to Founders Theatre, the Momentum Waikato representatives told the Council the organisation believed it could raise $25 million toward a "new build" theatre. The foundation's offer required the Council to contribute $30 million to a new facility.
"The Momentum Waikato proposal moves the project forward significantly – both in terms of opportunities and timeframe," says Mr Murray.
"It's sent a clear signal to the community and other stakeholders that we’re serious about this and we want to examine how we can work with other organisations to get a good outcome for the city, but at the same time be 'eyes wide open' to the cost implications.
"The Council believes the community and other regional stakeholders have a vital role to play."
The Council agreed to commit $100,000 to creating a concept design, masterplan and business case for a new build theatre, one of three options contained in today's report.
Mr Murray says there is still a significant amount of work to be done and as yet, there is no firm decision on whether a new theatre will be built.
"It's important people don't perceive this as a 'done deal'. There's a lot of discussion to take place yet. This is the first step."
Because of the significant spend on a new theatre – if that option is further pursued – and the impact on the Council's existing financial plan, the Council would need to undertake a Special Consultation Process.
Staff will be required to report back to the new Council in February with a Heads of Agreement which will outline the terms under which staff and Momentum Waikato will work together.
H3 staff have also been asked to bring a report to the Council's September meeting outlining options for the future of Founders Theatre, specifically on whether it can be modified for an alternative use, and what the costs related to a full demolition would be.
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