'Landmark . . . The future of Waimate's historic Quinn's Arcade building is set to be decided early next year, after the Waimate District Council rejected a proposal to house some of its infrastructure there. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Quinn’s Arcade building may be known early next year.

A Pro-Ject Waimate proposal that it be utilised by the Waimate District Council was rejected by the territorial authority.

Built by William Quinn between 1905 and 1907, the building between High and Grigson Sts is believed to have once been New Zealand’s first indoor shopping mall.

It was bought for $120,000 by Pro-Ject Waimate in 2007, and plans were made to restore it.

In April, the group submitted a proposal to the council for the redevelopment of the category two historic building, which involved it being developed to house the Waimate District Library and learning hub.

The estimated cost to restore the building was $3.6 million.

Four key elements of the proposal were: Pro-Ject Waimate retaining ownership of the building and remaining custodian and landlord; financial support of $163,000 from the council for design and project planning; a commitment that the council could pull out after two years if the group could not raise the capital required to fund the project; and formal governance that involved both parties.

The council reviewed the submission at a workshop on June 27 and invited the group to speak at a meeting of the council’s community services and development committee meeting on August 1.

However, representatives from the group were unable to attend the meeting.

The council again assessed the proposal, which chief executive Stuart Duncan said involved “risks and opportunities” being considered.

The proposal was rejected for several reasons, Mr Duncan said in a statement.

They included the proposed $163,000 in capital investment; unknown utility costs in addition to $100,000 in rental costs; the potential impact on the council’s in-house file security systems; relocation costs and the likely impact on ratepayers.

“The existing library service costs the Waimate district $370,000 per annum and recovers approximately $8000 in user fees each year,” Mr Duncan said.

“While moving to a multi-functional facility may increase user fee income through higher foot traffic it is assumed that the move would add a minimum of $100,000 to recurrent operation costs for the relocated district library, or the equivalent to a 1.1% rates increase.”

As part of its 2015-25 long term plan, the council had earmarked $1.5 million to refurbish the current library.

Mr Duncan said the council supported Pro-Ject Waimate in its “endeavour to breathe life back into the Quinn’s building”, but considered the “cost and possibility that council could end up the sole tenant of the building” as prohibitive.

Pro-Ject Waimate co-chairman Andy Saunders-Tack accepted the council’s decision, but said the group was “disappointed”.

“I guess the challenge we have now is, where to from here? Our motivation and mandate in regards to this project has been from the community of Waimate. The overwhelming feedback from them is that they want it to be for civic use.”

Alternative options would be discussed at a meeting in early 2018, he said.

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