First for arts precinct

The first new development in the performing arts precinct could soon be under way.

A planning application to build a $14 million music centre on Armagh St has been lodged with the Christchurch City Council and will be heard by three commissioners on Tuesday.

If approved, construction would begin early next year, with a proposed completion date of May 2016, Music Centre of Christchurch director Bronwyn Bijl said.

The centre, which will be situated behind the rebuilt Isaac Theatre Royal, will include a 329-seat concert hall and two other venues that can seat 60 and 100 people.

There will be rehearsal spaces, meeting rooms and a foyer that can hold up to 185 people for functions.

Bijl said a number of tenants were already keen to sign up for space.

About 144,000 people were expected to use the centre annually.

The centre has been without a home since the February 2011 earthquake destroyed its former base on the corner of Ferry Rd and Barbadoes St. It has been looking for a new central city home since then.

Bijl said the centre’s inclusion in the precinct was the best-case scenario.

“It’s a big process. We are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. We’re still working through the paperwork.”

Funding for most of the project has already been found, including about $10m from insurance proceeds and a $2.5m grant from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust.

The first and second floors will have about 1200 square metres of lettable space.

“We are a charitable trust. We’re not there to make money. We are there to provide a facility that is affordable,” Bijl said.

Two other precinct tenants, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and the Court Theatre, are still in negotiations and have yet to sign up.

The performing arts precinct is bordered by Gloucester, Armagh, New Regent and Colombo streets.


Tina Law

The Press

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