Community & Environment

Council approves three-month extension for Founders Theatre proposal

Founders Theatre

Hamilton City Council will give a community trust an extra three months to submit a proposal outlining an alternative future for the site of Founders Theatre.

The building, which opened in 1962, was closed in 2016 due to significant safety concerns. The building has also been identified as earthquake prone with estimates for restoration ranging from $12 million to $20 million.

Council has consulted with the community three times since the building’s closure, with 84% of submitters supporting Council’s proposal to create a multi-purpose park on the site. In the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan, $3.6 million was budgeted to demolish the building and build the new multi-purpose park.

In May 2021  the Theatre of the Impossible Trust (TOTI), a charitable trust petitioning to restore the site, was given until 31 December 2021 to provide an alternative business proposal for the site.

In recent weeks, TOTI requested a further three months until 31 March 2022, which Council approved at a meeting today.

Mayor Paula Southgate said Council approved the extension largely because of COVID-19 disruptions.

“Council accepted that, given Covid, TOTI needs some extra time to provide us and our community with a comprehensive and fully costed business case.

“But Founders has been closed since 2016 – that’s a long time – and this issue can’t go on forever.  Our community and our Council need certainty and personally I am hopeful this will be the last request for an extension. There is a lot we can do with that site and I think we need to get on with it.”

TOTI’s proposal, now due on 31 March 2022, must include a final concept design and comprehensive funded business case.

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