6 July 2020
Proposals for upgrade of Long Mile Road Visitor Centre shortlisted
The forest development project is back up and running with concept designs for the upgrade of the Long Mile Road Visitor Centre and possible commercial building site being shortlisted by the project group and mana whenua.
Earlier this year potential contractors for the design and build of the Visitor Centre upgrade and possible commercial building site participated in an Expression of Interest (EOI) process. The project group received eleven EOIs from local design and build teams and an evaluation panel (made up of representatives from Council and CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd) has assessed their concept proposals against agreed criteria to confirm a shortlist of teams who will now refine their concepts further. A contract will be awarded for the upgrade in the coming months.
The three local teams that have been shortlisted to progress with their concepts are Bishop Architecture/GRB Construction, Longmile Builders/Southern Draught, and Lockwood Group Ltd (their concepts are included below).
Rotorua Lakes Council’s Group Manager Strategy, Jean Paul Gaston, says the concept proposals provide confidence that an innovative solution for this popular destination will be achieved.
“We’re really pleased to be able to engage three local companies in this next stage of the process and the proposals we’ve shortlisted are of a very high standard. I’m confident we’ll be able to achieve a Visitor Centre and possible commercial building site that is innovative, fit for purpose, and embraces the cultural and natural elements of this special place.”
The Visitor Centre upgrade and possible commercial building site is part of the wider forest development project and will ensure the Visitor Centre is future proofed and fit for purpose. The criteria for the job includes an upgrade or replacement of the current Visitor Centre that is innovative, attracts manuhiri (visitors), reflects both the central mana whenua (traditional iwi/hapū) narrative and the natural environment, and that has an integrated and flexible layout that caters for future changes in use.
The investment in the forest amenity remains a valuable piece of work and fits well with Rotorua’s Build Back Better recovery strategy explains Mr Gaston.
“Recent data shows weekend activity in the forest, including walkers, runners and mountain bikers, is up on last year’s data which reinforces Rotorua’s appeal to domestic tourists and how valuable the forest is to our district.
“Upgrading the Long Mile Road Visitor Centre and creating space for a commercial building site will allow us to accommodate more visitors, provide additional services, and will lay the foundation for future commercial investment. In the current environment and in alignment with Rotorua’s Build Back Better recovery strategy, this could not be a more fitting time for this work to get underway,” he says.
Last month Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters visited Rotorua to announce an additional $90,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund was also being allocated to the forest development project to progress the upgrade of the Visitor Centre work more rapidly. This additional $90,000 is on top of the $7million the project has already received from the Provincial Growth Fund. Read more about this HERE.
The current Visitor Centre was built in 1970 and saw about 640,000 visitors walk through its doors last year. These visitors predominately seek information about how they can experience the forest, walking and cycling tracks, other tourism activities and cultural information.
Meanwhile construction at the new forest hub off Tarawera Road continues. The main car park development is now complete, with construction of the toilet block still underway. The hub is on track to open by Labour Weekend, (24 – 26 October 2020) which should also coincide with the opening of the new forest loop cycle trail.
The city loop cycle trail remains in the planning stages and all upgrades on Long Mile Road are now complete.
The forest development is a collaborative project between the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment, Te Komiti Nui O Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi Tribal Authority, CNI Iwi Holdings, and Rotorua Lakes Council. The development aims to enhance the forest amenity and improve the experience for all, create significant opportunities for the city, benefit tourism, spark commercial investment and create new jobs.
For more information about this project visit rotorualakescouncil.nz/forestdevelopment.
Bishop Architecture/GRB Construction concept
Longmile Builders/Southern Draught concept
Lockwood Group Ltd concept