Councillors voted unanimously in favour of proceeding with the project at a full Council meeting today.
“The city wants to keep its landmark Town Hall, and by base-isolating the building we will increase its life and seismic resilience by 100 years,” says Mayor Justin Lester.
“We want to do the job once and do it right. If the city had used base isolation when it was strengthened in 1992, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The Mayor said he had spoken to former mayors, the arts community and many Wellingtonians, who all said the strengthening was a worthwhile investment and the only rational and logical decision. Demolition and mothballing were not options.
“We have inherited this building from those that came before us. It’s a civic and cultural asset and it’s incumbent on us to gift it to future generations.”
Councillor Nicola Young, who holds the associate Arts Portfolio, says she had connections with the Town Hall going back to when she was at primary school and hearing Dame Kiri Te Kanawa for the first time.
“The Town Hall is probably Wellington’s most significant heritage building. Our forebears built it with our future in mind, and they made brave decisions. We have had to make a brave decision too.”
Under earthquake legislation, the Town Hall has to be either demolished or in the process of being strengthened by the end of 2019. Demolishing the Town Hall was not considered an option because of its category 1 listed heritage status.
A leasing agreement has already been signed. It will become a world-class musical venue with rehearsal, recording and performance space.
It will be a base for civic and community events and will be part of a centre of musical excellence for New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music Te Kōkī.
Construction work is expected to start in late March or early April and is estimated to take four years.