Church site touted for key building

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A new council administration and library on the site of the Methodist church on Baring Square East is the preferred site of four short-listed by Opus Architecture for the Ashburton council.
That option has a total project cost of $ 20.626m plus GST, less $7.888m in property sales, leaving a cost of $12.746m.
Land purchase costs are put at $920,000.
The old County Council building – now a temporary council chamber – would be demolished, as would the church.
Opus Architecture has been assessing a range of options for the Ashburton council and has drawn up a short list of four sites and six options.
The existing buildings have been assessed as quake prone.
Major decisions on the options have yet to be made.
Full details of the options, costs, and assessments are in a liftout in today’s paper.
Options include an extension to the existing administration building on the Havelock Street site; a new combined administration and library on the existing Havelock Street site; a new combined administration and library building on the council-owned site on the corner of Cass and Cameron streets (the Balmoral hall site); the preferred option on the Methodist /county site; another version on the Methodist site with unknown use of the County Council building; a new combined facility on the Eastfield site on the corner on Tancred and Cass streets .
Opus says the preferred option would establish Baring Square as the civic heart of Ashburton, and redevelopment of the southern side of Baring Square would revitalise it as the heart.
It would encourage complementary developments in the area and related well to associated town centre projects involving the redevelopment of Baring Square, the Victoria Street Triangle shops, and establishing a laneway connection between Havelock and Burnett streets.
Pluses for the preferred site are that it was high profile and easily accessible, a more expansive site, aligned best with future town centre aspirations, and would help encourage private investment in the CBD.
The new building is shown as taking up the area now occupied by the church and church hall and car parks.
The Methodist church site was a ‘‘late entry’’ among sites considered, with church officials allowing it to be included though, at the time, the fate of the damaged church was unknown.
Eastfield developers have pushed to have the new council facility there.