Purchase secures part of Dunedin’s heritage


The Dunedin City Council has secured a piece of Dunedin’s history and opened up future possibilities with the purchase of the Sammy’s building on Crawford Street.

The sale is unconditional and the DCC will take possession of the building on 10 February.

Community and culture committee chair Cr Aaron Hawkins says, “Sammy’s has played a huge role in Dunedin’s social and cultural history, so it’s exciting for our community to be able to start thinking about its future.

“Some of the best live shows I’ve ever seen were at Sammy’s, and it’s still one of the most beautiful venues in the country. It would’ve been an absolute travesty had it been sold and bowled, but now it’s safe for another generation of artists and audiences to enjoy.”

Cr Hawkins says the DCC usually supports private property owners to retain and redevelop heritage buildings, but in this case the building was significant enough to warrant DCC investment.

As development of the Warehouse Precinct progresses towards the overbridge and over to Bond Street, Sammy’s will be an anchor building for the area.

The DCC paid $128,000 for the building. It does not own the land, but Cr Hawkins says the DCC has established a great relationship with the owner of the site, Oakwood Properties, and has secured a rent holiday for the next two years while the future of the building is decided in consultation with the community.

An options paper will go to the Council before Easter, looking at what could be done with the building. The paper will look at ways to involve the arts and business communities in decisions about the building’s function, how it might look and how it fits with its surroundings. The development of the building is likely to be a partnership venture.

Team leader urban design Crystal Filep says, “Local creativity and skills, supported by the DCC, have driven development in the Warehouse Precinct. It’s a model that’s working well for the city and we hope to take a similar approach here.”

Built in 1896, the building was called Her Majesty’s Theatre while Queen Victoria was monarch, then changed to His Majesty’s Theatre during King Edward VII’s reign. The adjoining Agricultural Hall was built in 1902.