Invercargill City Council agrees to $25m CBD spend

By Logan Savory

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The Invercargill City Council has made arguably its most important decision in a generation by agreeing to invest up to $30 million in a city centre block development.

Councillors and Mayor Tim Shadbolt voted unanimously on Tuesday to invest $25m into stage one, two, and three of HWCP Management Ltd's planned development.

Lindsay Thomas abstained from voting given he is a director of HWCP Management Ltd. 

A further $5m has been delegated to ICC chief executive Clare Hadley and Holdco chairperson Brian Wood for any design changes which might need to be negotiated.

Another $20m ratepayer investment will be allocated for "streetscape", which would have been set aside if the council was or was not an investor in the block development.

Speaking after the meeting, HWCP Management Ltd director Scott O'Donnell said he was delighted the councillors had shown the fortitude to back a project, which he believed would transform the heart of Invercargill.

Tuesday's decision was key to ensuring the development could move forward, he said.

"We are working with three public [entities], it's like a house of cards, we need them all on board," he said.

To this point, O'Donnell, and fellow private investor Geoff Thompson, have spent three years working on the project and O'Donnell declared Tuesday's ICC decision as one of its big hurdles it needed to clear.

An end of August deadline had been set to get all of the funding together to proceed with the development, O'Donnell said.

The hope now was the other investors would be locked in within the next nine days.

That would then trigger the ability to put a demolition plan forward and get on with clearing the block.

O'Donnell said there were just two retail tenants signed at this stage, given most would not sign until the funding for the project had been confirmed.

Once that happened more tenants were expected to sign, he said.

While the council has only invested in stage one, two, and three of the project, O'Donnell said stage four (the HWR office building), stage five (medical centre/civic centre), and stage six (accommodation), were reliant on the first three stages being able to be completed.

Once the whole development was operational there was the potential for "thousands of people" to be using that block at certain times of the day, he said.

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