Background of the project
The decision was made by Hutt City Council in 2014, in consultation with many existing hall users, to replace the Town and Horticultural Halls with a single, multi-purpose community venue. Both buildings are earthquake-prone.
Experts advised that the Town Hall could collapse inwards in a moderate earthquake, and the Horticultural Hall is just 14% of current standards. To just strengthen them would alone would cost $6.5 million.
The Civic Precinct concept plans aimed to create an exciting community space and provide greater integration with the council administration building, the Civic Gardens and Riddiford Gardens, the War Memorial Library, The Dowse Art Museum and Dowse Square – and are designed to meet the needs of our community. The space had been looked at in its entirety to ensure that it worked, and is something the city can be proud of.
Council worked with the Historic Places Trust and the Hutt Architects Sole Practitioner group on ways to retain heritage.
The new precinct was planned still to be home to the community events and civic functions enjoyed by residents over the years at the halls. The community would be gaining a facility that will encourage the vibrancy and economic benefits that comes from attracting events such as conferences and concerts to Hutt City.
The concept plan incorporated the land owned by St James Church (The Wellington Diocesan Trustees) and the Hutt Bowling Club. The concept plan determined the proposed layout and function of spaces to be within the gardens.
Council’s Civic Centre development will create a facility that caters for the needs of our communities while also bringing much needed economic benefit.
The new design upgrades the Town Hall while retaining its heritage. The Horticultural Hall will be demolished and replaced with a modern, flexible space for community, conference, event and exhibition use.
The facility will enable the Hutt City to host events and conferences that will greatly boost the vibrancy of the central Hutt and play a big part in driving our local economy forward. The stimulus this will give to the central city will include flow-on effects to moteliers, restaurants and retailers, the creation of new jobs, and the boost to the economy in general.
The Announcement for Two new exciting developments for Lower Hutt
The announcement that USAR Commercial Assets Limited (USAR) will operate Lower Hutt’s new Events Centre, and develop and operate a four-star plus hotel is fantastic news for a city focussed on rejuvenation.
Hutt City Council has played a role in attracting this outstanding Events Centre operator and hotel development, part of a wider focus on revitalisation and growth for Lower Hutt.
The Events Centre will remain under Council ownership. USAR will hold a lease to run the Centre for an initial 20 years with further rights of renewal.
Mayor Ray Wallace says, “It is a great and quite unique arrangement to have this leased by a professional operator; it ensures the building will be used to its full potential, at low risk to Council.”
The Events Centre development arose out of the opportunity presented when the City’s historic Town Hall, Council administration building and Horticultural Hall required earthquake strengthening. A new Events Centre was incorporated into this programme of work and will adjoin the upgraded Town Hall and administration building; the Horticultural Hall has been removed.
Just twenty minutes from Wellington, the Events Centre will be one of the most functional, modern event centres of its size in the country. Its flexible design means it will be able to cater to a range of community and commercial events, including multi-day conferences.
The owner and operator of USAR, Mr Raman Sarin has over 25 years’ experience managing event centres and hotels, and says “Hospitality is my family’s life and we look forward to this new adventure in Lower Hutt.”
To attract the specialised investment of a hotel, seen as important to a successful Events Centre and for the existing business and leisure market, Council purchased properties in southern High Street, close to the Events Centre and in a desirable site in the City’s CBD. As part of the agreement, Council has prepared the site, and will sell it on to USAR, recovering fair value for the land.
It is estimated that the hotel and Events Centre will bring between $55 to $75m into the local economy over the over the next 20 years and up to 90 associated jobs per year. By the end of the process, Council will have invested a net $3.5m into facilitating the development of a hotel in the City, and $20.3m into the new Events Centre.
Mayor Ray Wallace says, “These two developments are of great long-term significance to Lower Hutt. As well as the economic benefits there are also social ones including being able to provide key community and commercial events in a quality, purpose built venue in the heart of our city, and having a vibrant centre that inspires our community and attracts visitors.”