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Confirms it can move: Architect Ed Elliott by the Queenstown Arts Centre

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Plans are afoot to move Queenstown’s community arts centre — possibly to Frankton’s Country Lane — before its council lease expires next May.

Queenstown Art Society (QAS) had been keen to retain CBD premises that have housed a thriving arts community for 20 years.

City Hall, however, requires it for a temporary carpark or construction laydown area till the site becomes part of the Project Manawa civic/cultural centre that could ultimately rehouse the arts centre.

It’s encouraged QAS to use its soon-to-open Te Atamira arts and cultural facility at Frankton’s Remarkables Park.

But the art society’s keen to keep its building — originally part of the resort’s high school — and councillor Penny Clark’s suggesting they move it.

‘‘It’s a building that has the ability to be moved, it’s got some history behind it, so why pull it down?

‘‘We’ve got to get behind this community stuff because it’s going to take another 10 years
before we get Project Manawa up and running so the guys can come back, so we need to hold them together, somewhere.’’

Clark’s suggesting two possible central Queenstown sites — at Lakeview, by a temporary carpark the council’s developing, or on council’s Warren Park.

Meantime, QAS is negotiating with the owners of Country Lane, off Hansen Road, where former Queenstown campground cabins are being refitted for cottage businesses.

‘‘We’re definitely very keen,’’ says co-owner Tineke Enright, who’s already talked to a moving company.

She says her dad, Bill Grant, was schooled in the building, ‘‘so it would be nice to get it out here’’.

QAS president Diane Hart says ‘‘we’re very keen to be located out there, we feel as though it’s an appropriate site, the old school building linked up with the old Queenstown baches’’.

‘‘We believe we can contribute to the destination aspect by bringing our art classes,  teaching, our studio artists, our events.’’

Hart says she’s not expecting Country Lane’s owners to subsidise them, but will probably need some financial support from philanthropists or willing locals ‘‘who think enough of the old school building to want it to survive.’’

Last Sunday, she showed local architect Ed Elliott, who has an interest in heritage  buildings, around the arts centre.

Elliott’s taken by the fact it probably dates back 100 years.

‘‘It was part of the first high school, it’s got wonderful rimu floors, beautiful stud height and great light — it’s absolutely ideal for the purpose the art society uses it for.’’

He’d love it retained where it is — ‘‘taking the building out for a carpark is, in my mind, ludicrous’’.

However, from a technical perspective he says it can definitely be moved, albeit in sections.

It would be wasteful, he says, demolishing a building council spent a lot on, a few years ago, seismic-strengthening, replacing the roof and and putting in new plywood walls.

scoop@scene.co.nz