Council supports the St James
The St James Theatre has been given a confirmed funding boost from council.
Auckland Council agreed to provide a secured suspensory loan of up to $15 million on July 21.
The fate of the theatre has been uncertain since its doors shut in 2007 over safety concerns with an estimated cost of $66.6 million to restore it. In 2014 the Li family purchased the old theatre plus surrounding land and agreed St James would be restored and a multi-storey apartment block would be developed on the rest of the land.
Queen Street’s St James is one of the last two early 20th century theatres in Auckland and is a scheduled as a Category A heritage building.
Steve Bielby, principal trustee of Auckland Notable Properties Trust, says he is thrilled the council has confirmed its commitment to see the building restored.
‘‘This commitment will go a long way in helping get the St James back to its former glory and I look forward to working alongside council over the coming weeks to finalise the arrangements of stage one of the restoration works.’’
Mayor Len Brown says restoring the St James is the number one heritage priority Aucklanders wanted to see happen.
‘‘Aucklanders are united in wanting to preserve the historic theatre so that generations in future can continue to enjoy it,’’ he says.
Brown hopes the Government will also help towards the restoration costs.
Jacinda Ardern, Labour party’s heritage spokesperson has always been supportive of saving the St James and welcomes the additional funding from council.
However, she says the issue has always been the significant shortfall in funding.
In December 2015, Arts, Culture and Heritage MP Maggie Barry promised to investigate potential funding from central government. Ardern asked Barry at a committee hearing in June and Barry said no decisions had been made about the funding and the criteria had changed.
David Hartnell is an ambassador for the St James Saviours and is ‘‘delighted’’ to hear of Auckland Council’s additional funding to save the theatre.
The St James officially closed in March and work is under way on the development of the apartments.
Steve Bielby is thrilled the council has confirmed to seeing the building restored.