DCC sells Athenaeum, 23 The Octagon

Dunedin AthenaeumImage: ODT Files

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Historic Athenaeum Building Sold

This item was published on 08 Apr 2013.

The Octagon Athenaeum has been sold in an agreement which provides an opportunity to meet community needs and protect the building’s historic features.

The Dunedin City Council agreed today to accept an offer from Lawrie Forbes, for a purchase price of $900,000. The offer is unconditional, with settlement on 1 May.

Mr Forbes has developed a number of historic buildings in Dunedin and was awarded the 2012 Dunedin City Council Supreme Award for Heritage Re-Use. Mr Forbes plans to earthquake strengthen the building using his company Zeal Steel and develop part of the building for an arts and culture use.

Mr Forbes also plans to place a restrictive covenant on the property title to ensure the heritage elements of the interior and exterior of the building are retained. The covenant is to be agreed between Mr Forbes and the [New Zealand] Historic Places Trust. If agreement cannot be reached on the wording of a suitable covenant within two years, this condition lapses.

Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics InstituteImage: ODT Files

Following a December 2012 Council meeting, Colliers International were appointed as agents for the sale of the Athenaeum. A deadline treaty process began in January this year and four offers were received, ranging from $500,000 to $900,000.

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull says while Mr Forbes’ offer was the highest, the Council also took into account his plans to meet community needs by protecting the heritage of the building with a covenant and work closely with the arts and cultural sector.

“What makes Lawrie Forbes’ offer so attractive is the strategic alignment it has with the overall vision for the city. It is very much in line with the outcomes envisaged by the Central City Strategy, the Heritage Strategy and Arts and Culture Strategy which is being developed.”

In October 2007, the DCC bought the Athenaeum for $1,130,000, with the possibility of using the building in a large theatre development. The development did not proceed and so the decision was made to sell the property.

The purchase price will leave the DCC with an estimated debt of $100,565, which is unbudgeted and must be repaid in the current financial year. The total cost of owning the building (from 2007 to 2013), once the sale is completed, is $502,302.

On average the holding costs have been $74,000 a year and the sale means the DCC no longer has these ongoing costs, nor the risks associated with owning the property.

Athenaeum Report (PDF, 4.0 MB)
Athenaeum minutes extract (PDF, 115 KB)

Contact the Mayor of Dunedin on 477 4000.

DCC Link

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

14 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Heritage, Name, People, Project management, Property, Site

14 responses to “DCC sells Athenaeum, 23 The Octagon

  1. [Aside] As mentioned in the DCC Athenaeum Report, see Tenancy Schedule:

    NEW LEVEL DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED (1683983) Registered
    Incorporation Date: 25 Aug 2005
    Entity type: NZ Limited Company
    Company Addresses:
    Registered Office / Address for service
    PricewaterhouseCoopers, Level 1, Westpac Building, 106 George Street, Dunedin 9016

    Directors Showing 1 of 1 directors
    Warwick Leslie GRENFELL
    29 Kilgour Street, Rd 1, Waikouaiti 9471

    Total Number of Shares: 99
    Extensive Shareholding: No
    Shareholders in Allocation:
    Allocation 1: 99 shares (100.00%)
    Warwick Leslie GRENFELL
    29 Kilgour Street, Seacliff, Dunedin

  2. Peter

    Great news for Dunedin.I wonder if he is going to restore the facade close to the historic image depicted.

  3. Excellent!! We only lose $500,000, and Mayor Cull says that is a great deal. I suppose it is, if we put it into perspective, . We pour more than that, on an annual basis, into the stadium hole, and what do we get for that? Diddley squat, as far as I can see.

    • ”There’s more to the Octagon than just drinking. It was built as a community building. I see its future usage along those lines.” –Lawrie Forbes

      ### ODT Online Tue, 9 Apr 2013
      New owner plans community use
      By Chris Morris
      The Athenaeum in the Octagon could become home to a new arts-focused community ”arcade” – including space for live music, a cafe and bar – after its sale was announced by the Dunedin City Council. […] The building would become the latest to be rescued by Mr Forbes, who was already restoring the Rogan McIndoe Print buildings and the sagging Reed’s Building, among others. Mr Forbes’ work helped earn him the council’s supreme award for heritage reuse last year
      Read more

  4. Peter

    Interesting comment by Lawrie Forbes about the drinking scene in the Octagon. The place certainly hums now, which is good for a city centre, but the drinking/bar culture aspect is somewhat off-putting. Seems to be a place ‘to be seen’.

    • At ODT Online:

      Athenaeum still houses a small theatre
      Submitted by wynot on Tue, 09/04/2013 – 12:40pm.

      The Otago Cine Club Inc (now called Otago Amateur Movie Makers Inc – the oldest movie making Club in the Southern hemisphere – now into its 76th year !) built a small theatre in a reading room behind the library in 1957. This was shared with the community for many years, with many public film shows. The Fortune theatre in its very early days use to rent it for [rehearsals], and it was used by the Dunedin Camera Club. Sadly the building [deteriorated] with roof leaks, with the owners hoping to build a new building rather than repair it and the Club decided to move out. Last November when the club was celebrating its 75th Anniversary we were kindly shown the theatre, which is still there, complete with seating – it would be nice to move back in!

  5. Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics’ Institute
    Here is the building’s Category I registration report provided by New Zealand Historic Places Trust, for those who would like to know more about its history and significance:

    http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=7781

    • ### ch9.co.nz April 11, 2013 – 7:28pm
      Athenaeum building sold
      A hum of excitement around the 142 year old Athenaeum building in Dunedin’s Octagon is picking up volume. News broke this week the building was sold by the DCC to heritage building developer Lawrie Forbes. The man behind a growing number of heritage buildings took a turn round his latest acquisition today with some of the people he hopes will help map its future.
      Video

  6. Open Day at the historic Athenaeum Building
    Where: 23 The Octagon
    When: Friday 26 April, 12 noon – 6pm

    [Sturdy footwear recommended]

    You are invited to an Open Day at the historic Athenaeum Building in the Octagon, Dunedin, for the creative and cultural sector to explore the space and consider what it may offer you.

    We have an agreement with Lawrie Forbes to lease the building for development of a central city arts and culture hub for the community, and an incubator for arts and culture-focused enterprises, incorporating:

    ● facilities such as the Athenaeum library and existing theatre
    ● galleries, studios, performance venues and entrepreneurial arts spaces, and food and entertainment venues with arts and cultural performance components.

    The objective is a flexible mix of rentable venues, arts enterprise spaces, and collaborative community space to create a dynamic arts interface in the heart of the city’s entertainment zone.

    Think of spaces for things to happen in the public eye, rather than office and administrative facilities; an adventure through Dunedin art and culture.

    The vision is an immersive cultural environment that draws cruise ship passengers, families and senior citizens during the day; kids after school, genteel diners and art lovers in the evening; and avant garde hard core as the night gets late.

    The building offers 1600 sq metres of floor space in total, approximately half of it at street level off the Octagon, including the existing 100-seat theatre. The other half is at basement level, with an adjoining courtyard garden that is calling out for tables, chairs and coffee in the sun.

    Spaces vary from approximately 3m x 3m to 30m x 10m.

    Performance cafes… cultural space… workshop space… artist’s studio… exhibition… pop up venue… shops… art market… rave space. Short-term, medium, or long-term.

    If you have a vision you’re pursuing that you think might thrive in such an environment, come and check it out and talk about the possibilities.

    Or if you have something you can contribute to help achieve a great result, we’d love to talk with you about that as well.

    Allan Baddock & Scott Muir
    Phone 021 588 545 or (03) 455 8738

    • Register to read DScene online at http://fairfaxmedia.newspaperdirect.com/

      ### DScene 24.4.13
      Ambitious plans for use of Athenaeum building (pages 1 & 3)
      By Wilma McCorkindale
      An agreement with leading film– maker Alan Baddock and music industry veteran Scott Muir has been made for tenancy of Dunedin’s historic Athenaeum building. New owner, heritage landlord Lawrie Forbes, confirmed this week he has an agreement with Baddock and Muir to redevelop the building for arts and culture businesses and organisations, the concept designed by Muir.

      Their vision includes short, medium or long-term tenants as the rooms and the building’s theatre are developed in stages, Baddock said. That included performance cafes, cultural space, workshop space, artists’ studios, exhibitions, pop– up venues, shops, art market, and a rave space.

      ‘‘We have an agreement to lease the building for development of a central city arts and culture hub for the community, and an incubator for arts and culture-focused enterprises,’’ Baddock said. It will incorporate the Athenaeum library and existing theatre, galleries, studios, performance venues and entrepreneurial arts spaces, and food and entertainment venues with arts and cultural performance components.

      ‘‘The objective is a flexible mix of rentable venues, arts enterprise spaces, and collaborative community space to create a dynamic arts interface in the heart of the city’s entertainment zone,’’ Baddock said. ‘‘Think of spaces for things to happen in the public eye, rather than office and administrative facilities; an adventure through Dunedin art and culture. The vision is an immersive cultural environment that draws cruise ship passengers, families and senior citizens during the day; kids after school, genteel diners and art lovers in the evening; and avant garde hard core as the night gets late.’’

      This week Baddock and Muir launched a campaign to get prospective tenants on board; an open day will be held at the Athenaeum on Friday from midday until 6pm.

      Baddock said the day was designed for the creative and cultural sector to explore the space and consider what it may offer them. Forbes said he was feeling great about the agreement. ‘‘I’m really optimistic about this. The city has lots of entertainment venues for things like wining and dining. But there is a gap and I think this will fill it. ‘‘The vision is for people to come and be entertained and be blown away.’’
      #bookmark #bookmark

      • ### ODT Online Sat, 27 Apr 2013
        Call to revitalise Athenaeum’s spaces
        By Shawn McAvinue
        The ”drab and bland” entrance to the Athenaeum in the Octagon leads to myriad empty underground spaces ”screaming out” to be used, tour guide Allan Baddock says. The Athenaeum open day yesterday was designed to get as many people from the ”arts and culture sector” to see the potential of the empty spaces in the building, Mr Baddock said.

        The building was formerly a ”temple to literature, science and art” and he wanted to convert as many people as possible to wanting to use the space.”But the temple hasn’t had too many worshippers for a while but it’s time to enlarge the congregation.”

        Dunedin film-maker Phil Davison said the tour of the ”photogenic” space had his ”mind racing” with ideas for a film. The Dunedin City Council has sold the building to Dunedin developer Lawrie Forbes and the settlement date was on Wednesday.
        Read more

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    Went there. Amazed, enchanted, filled with admiration for the chaps who noticed this diamond-gone-rough, hope community support rolls up bigtime. Support in words written and spoken to encourage DCC’s red-carpeting to extend to something that is “ours” since wayback, support of donations and ideas and materials and hands-on work at anything we are able to do.

  8. Elizabeth

    via DCC responses to LGOIMA requests 2013 (online information)

    Sale of the Athenaeum LGOIMA 8 April 2013 (PDF, 1.5 MB)
    Council resolved to release the following information to the public: an extract from the non-public minutes of the Council meeting held on 8 April 2013, a redacted version of the Manager of City Property’s report to Council and a copy of the Agreement for Sale and Purchase.

Leave a Reply to Elizabeth Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s