Costs skyrocket for civic centre

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An artist's impression of what may be built.

Costs for the proposed civic centre and library for the Ashburton council have skyrocketed.

Council originally estimated it would cost $22m to build the centre on the site of the old county council building in Baring Square East – but the cost of the preferred option is $45m.

It is a joint library and civic centre that would include a children’s discovery centre, parenting room, teen space, group study area, meeting rooms, a video and audio studio for film and music, and staff facilities.

This option, the council says, would put construction and fit-out costs at $45m.

But there are other options.  Council will review its final consultation documents on Thursday (March 14).

Two options would alter the size of the library space and features it would include.

A larger library would have room for a performance and event space and tiered seating as well as features of the preferred option. That is on the table for consultation at $53m.

The smaller library option would not have the space a community the size of Ashburton is recommended to need and would not include a teen space, group study areas, a video and audio studio, or learning centre.

That option is costed at $41m.

A fourth option would be to change what was agreed in the 2018-28 Long Term Plan and have the civic centre and library in two buildings.

This would mean the civic centre was built in Baring Square East and the library would stay on its site.

That change would mean the council could not sell the Havelock Street library site and affect funding availability.

“The council stresses that while this option is estimated to cost approximately $39m, the true cost of the project could end up more expensive than the preferred option as refurbishment needed on the library building could be more expensive once work actually begins,” the council said in a statement.

As it is, the library would close its doors in 2022 because it is earthquake prone.

The council said it would consult on four potential options “as the budget needed to construct the joint library and civic centre agreed on in the council’s Long Term Plan has been found to be insufficient to built the facility,” said mayor Donna Favel.

“We are disappointed this has occurred and that we are in this position. Combined with our recent experience of building public facilities such as the Ashburton Art Gallery and Heritage Centre and the EA Networks Centre, we have recognised that we need to be very realists with the community about actual costs so we do not repeat past experiences,” Mrs Favel said.