Kick-start for $5.2m build­ing

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - Sam Kilmis­ter sam.kilmis­[email protected]

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.

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