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Posted By: Karen Pasco - Otago Daily Times on Fri, 17 July 2020

  • Invercargill Central Limited project director Geoff Cotton and Bruce Middleton ABL Regional Director

A company that has been operating in Invercargill since 1966 has been awarded the contract to build the new inner-city block.

Invercargill Central Ltd project director Geoff Cotton said yesterday the news Amalgamated Builders Ltd (ABL) had been awarded the project would offset the recent news of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter closing.

"It’s a momentous day for this project.

"We’ve had a lot of problems starting — we’ve had so many false starts — but now getting the main contractor on board is a big step forward."

Funding, Covid-19 and a court order to halt demolition had all caused delays.

ABL regional director Bruce Middleton said he believed ABL’s long-standing service to Southland played a part in it being awarded the contract.

He expected 175 local jobs would be created at the site and throughout the supply chain as a result of awarding the contract to ABL.

“It will also allow us, alongside our subcontractors — the majority of which are local companies — to create employment and apprenticeship opportunities, as well as provide security for existing staff who had concerns about their futures,” he said.

Auckland-based company MPM Projects, which also has offices in Queenstown, would project manage the build.

Mr Cotton said building would start in the next two to three weeks.

It was hoped construction of the first stage of the project, which includes a car park, retail and the Farmers building, would start in two to three weeks time.

The first stage was expected to be open for business in early 2022.

A dispensation from the Civil Aviation Authority had been sought to install a 76m crane on site, he said.

The announcement came on the same day Invercargill City Council chief executive Clare Hadley announced council’s investment in the project had been pared back to $40.5million from $46million.

The reduction comes as the result of the Government’s contribution of $10million to the project as part of its shovel-ready initiative. The investment gives the council a 45% shareholding in the project.