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Key details of plan to rejuvenate the Reading Courtenay complex made public – WCC

Key details of the confidential commercially sensitive negotiation where Wellington City Council supports the upgrade and reopening of Reading Cinema can now be brought into the public domain.

With approximately 80% of the deal with Reading Cinema now agreed, and significant public interest, Wellington City Council and Reading Cinemas have reached agreement on releasing key details about the proposed deal to the public.

This comes in advance of a notice of motion tomorrow to revoke the deal by Councillor Iona Pannett.

Reading Courtenay prioritised the safety of Wellington families and visitors by choosing to close the building in January 2019 due to earthquake risk.

The key features of the deal are:

  • WCC will buy the land from Reading for NZ$32m. This is based on the valuation we received that it is worth $31.9m.
  • Reading will lease the land back from WCC on a 21-year perpetually renewable lease.
  • The annual rent paid by Reading will cover WCC’s borrowing and other costs so that it is fiscally neutral to ratepayers.
  • Reading has the first right to buy back the land anytime within the first 15 years of the lease.
  • WCC can sell the land to someone else any time after the first 10 years of the lease.
  • The deal provides that WCC will only complete the agreement and pay the balance of funds to Reading once we have been satisfied that the new building design meets the civic outcomes we want and has resource consent.

“We here at Council have a responsibility to create a vibrant city centre where everyone feels like they can explore and have fun safely, regardless of your age, gender or ethnicity,” says Mayor Tory Whanau.

“It is what we were elected to do, and it is what our people want.

“A key part of that has been revamping the Courtenay Precinct. And a huge component of this is returning the Reading Courtenay complex to its status as the entertainment anchor of Te Aro.

“It ties in with work being done to deliver the Golden Mile, and commitments as part of the Pōneke Promise and Courtenay Precinct Plan. The Reading Courtenay complex is a critical piece of that puzzle.

“I am so grateful that rather than sitting on their hands, officers are working towards a creative solution to see that precinct up and running again.”

A solution where:

  • The deal is fiscally neutral – so no cost – to ratepayers.
  • We will have the right to sell the land after 10 years at market value.
  • Council will have the right to approve the final designs so they meet our standards.
  • We regain a top entertainment venue catering to over 6,000 people daily.

“It’s an extremely good solution and quite frankly, if we shoot this down I don’t see any reason why officers would try and find creative solutions in the future for the problems we face,” adds the Mayor.

“I’ve heard over and over again from Wellingtonians that they want something done about it and are frustrated by the lack of action. This deal seeks to deliver that.

“It will see many tens of millions of dollars invested by Reading into a dynamic redeveloped centre featuring a state-of-the-art cinema, with a variety of dining and entertainment options. A venue that attracts people to the city, is family friendly and will contribute to a vibrant Wellington.

“This deal is a crucial step to creating the vibrant, safe Courtenay Place Wellingtonians deserve. The alternative is we walk away from this deal and leave the Reading Courtenay complex as a huge eye sore looming glumly over Courtenay Place for years to come.”

 

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