Cromwell hall demolition delayed until early next year

by Kim Bowden - Oct 16, 2023

Cromwell's redundant memorial hall will see out another year on its lakeside spot on Melmore Terrace, with plans for its demolition pushed out until early 2024.

The company that secures the contract to build its replacement will be charged with removal of the 63-year-old building, and that decision hasn't been reached.

In an update on the project, the Central Otago District Council says four short-listed companies are still working through a tender process for the project, which has a $43-million budget.

Jasmax's vision for the new Cromwell events centre, which will replace the 63-year-old memorial hall on Melmore Terrace (Image: CODC/Jasmax 2022 preliminary design).

Tenders close in early November and will then need to be evaluated.

"This tender timeline means that the demolition of the existing hall will now be in early 2024 to give time for the winning tenderer to fully prepare the site prior to work commencement," the council says.

However, work continues in the background, and this month a building consent application has been submitted to the council for approval.

Also underway, work to secure external funding to make up a $4.3 million shortfall.

While $31.5 million was allocated to the events centre project in the 2021 to 2031 Long Term Plan, an additional $11.4 million is needed to deliver the facility signed off by the local community board. Cromwell Community Board members have committed to providing up to $7 million from the sale of ratepayer-owned land within the Cromwell Ward, but the remainder will need to come from public grants or other philanthropy.

Cromwell Community Board chair Anna Harrison says there has been "healthy interest" from potential funders, but conversations will continue once building consent is granted.

Earlier, the council had indicated the old hall would be gone by November, and the latest delay is one in a string of eleventh-hour reprieves for the once well-used community facility.

However Mrs Harrison is not concerned with the demolition delay, saying the new timing will allow for site preparation and have less impact on neighbouring properties, including the Town and Country Club.

She is confident Cromwellians will see a new events centre being built on the site throughout next year.

"Momentum is definitely still pushing us forward and we are getting on with it."

The council says it is planning to provide people with a chance to officially "say goodbye" to the hall before demolition work begins.

The hall has been closed to the public since last year due to earthquake strengthening requirements. 

Representatives of the RSA say they have had their treasured photos and memorabilia locked away in storage since then, and they are looking forward to having them back on display in the new building.

Other community groups are also anticipating the opening of the new events centre, which will house the Cromwell Museum, a 400-seat auditorium, a 40-seat cinema, a cafe, and other flexible spaces for meetings and functions, all overlooking the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan, a short walk from the Cromwell Heritage Precinct.

Main image: The 63-year-old Cromwell Memorial Hall, on a terrace above Lake Dunstan, will remain in place until early next year, while a contract to build its replacement is awarded.


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