The departure of Inland Revenue from its former Elizabeth Street tower opens the door for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council's refurbishment of the building before moving more staff in next year.
The departure of the IRD to new offices in Cameron Road is a significant step in a programme stalled until existing leases expire.
“The ultimate objective is to relocate the multiple sites the regional council has into that one building,” says BOPRC chairman Doug Leeder.
“Currently some staff are in Regional House, some staff are in First Avenue and some staff are over at the Mount.
“Ultimately when the Regional House tenancies come up for renewal they won't be renewed, and there has been a capital programme put in place to refurbish Regional House to accommodate all the regional council activities.”
Down the bottom opposite the restaurant there is also good access for all the marine equipment and vessels, says Doug.
“The marine harbour guys can come straight into the bottom of the building there, and they can go out to the slipway there,” he says, speaking of the existing slipway near the railway bridge.
The regional council bought regional house well before he became involved with the council, says Doug.
Council staff have moved in as existing leases have expired.
The departure of Inland Revenue frees up another two floors of threadbare carpets and damp walls in winter, serviced by an air conditioning system on its last legs – a description similar to the conditions endured by Tauranga City Council before they were cleared from the Willow Street administration building by the discovery of stachybotrys mould.
Council papers show $1 million was originally set aside for the refurbishment, which is expected to begin this year after the other tenants vacate.
It seems strange for Tauranga ratepayers to be supporting two separate council building projects in the same city, but Doug says there have been talks between the two council at an executive level for 12 months or more.
“I understand Tauranga City Council own the carpark immediately behind Regional House. The decision as to what TCC may what to do with that carpark and any future development is essentially up to them.
“But the door's always open to have discussions at the local government level about what's in the best interests of the ratepayers.”