Kick-start for $5.2m building
Renovations have started on a home that will be sold and donated to help fund a $5.2 million community centre in Bulls.
Construction of the longawaited centre will start next week, with Whanganui-based W&W Construction in charge of turning an abandoned site on Criterion St into an information centre, town hall, library and bus stop.
A home donated by Central House Movers director Mike O’byrne will play a huge role in helping the community reach its fundraising contribution. He gutted the house, painted it and moved it to a new subdivision on council land in Walton St.
The community was asked to source $150,000 towards the centre, which it had already done, Rangitı¯kei mayor Andy Watson said.
Once renovated and sold in April, Watson estimated the home would add another $150,000 to the fund after costs are accounted for. The four-bedroom home is valued at $270,000 and features a new kitchen, bathroom and garage.
Watson said the demand for homes in Rangitı¯kei was growing as more Aucklanders made the shift south.
‘‘Five years ago we had surplus homes for miles and we’re rapidly reaching the stage where we now need more housing.
‘‘Shamubeel Eaqub, an economist, spoke in Whanganui a few years ago and said rural towns were dead – to put the for-sale sign up now – he couldn’t have been more wrong.’’
Projects such as the community centre in Bulls made the region more attractive to out-oftowners looking to relocate, Watson said.
‘‘These projects are being replicated in Marton and Taihape.
‘‘People from Auckland and Tauranga – they expect certain things and they have a choice over where they go. It’s about making our region more attractive.’’
The centre was fast-tracked because of earthquake legislation, which deemed the old town hall unsafe, prompting the council and community to design a building bringing all the town’s amenities under one roof.
Following a revamp of the laws after the Kaiko¯ura earthquake, architects were forced back to the drawing board to add 16 tonnes of steel to the framework.
‘‘It’s a very, very safe building – I can say that.’’
The building initially cost $3.6m when the design was first pitched at a public meeting in August, 2016.