DHB move huge boost for CBD

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Another major element in the revitalisation of Hamilton’s CBD is on track with Waikato DHB set to move into the refurbished Farmers building early next year.

Seven hundred DHB staff will move to the formerly derelict site at the corner of Alexandra St and Collingwood St in the first three months of 2018 and the deal should be an example to other Government agencies, according to DHB member Martin Gallagher.

“I think the IRD could have taken a leaf out of the DHB’s book on this. This is proof that you can as a major public agency invest in your CBD for good outcomes.”

DHB chief executive Nigel Murray.

In June last year IRD controversially confirmed it intends to move 500 staff out of its Bryce St site to a Te Rapa property, sparking criticism of the Government for ignoring the city’s efforts to keep more workers in town.

“This is a case where rather than look for some greenfield site on the edge of town, the DHB under the leadership of Nigel Murray and Bob Simcock looked at how can we help to revitalise the central city.”

Mr Gallagher said the move provided a significant monetary investment into a part of the CBD that needed it and concentrated staff from various other parts of the central city into one place.

“I do believe there is an absolute place for central government agencies to be acutely conscious of revitalising CBD precincts.”

While as a board member he had pushed for the move into the CBD, he praised DHB management “who didn’t need much prompting from us.”

“The initiative was at management level. I just wish that initiative could be duplicated at other government agencies.”

Vanessa Williams, general manager of the Hamilton Central Business Association welcomed the DHB in to the former Farmers building.

“An additional 700 people based in the centre of the CBD will add an increased vibrancy to the city by worker numbers, foot traffic and the flow on effects to surrounding businesses,” she said.

“Hamilton’s CBD is continuing to develop as a business centre with vacancy rates at their lowest since 2005 and with an increasing national interest from businesses wanting to relocate here, Hamilton’s profile is continuing to build as a desirable commercial business hub,” she said.

Another significant development under construction in the CBD is the new Genesis Energy building at the former Countdown Supermarket site on Bryce St which will house about 600 staff currently working at two other CBD locations.

Mr Murray said while the hospital is important, health services are not just about hospitals and this is an example of the DHB extending its capability into the central city.

“We are really pleased that by bolstering the workforce in this precinct of the CBD, we can give a big boost to the vibrancy of the city.”

The DHB is consolidating services from nine locations across the CBD onto the site; Population Health, some mental health services, community nursing, the Diabetes Service, Disability Support Link, Information Services, Human Resources, accounts, payroll and the Strategy and Funding team.

The move will take place in the first three months of 2018.

There will also be public consulting rooms for mental health and the diabetes service. The three street frontages, plus easy access to public transport, with a bus stop immediately outside, will improve access for clients and community groups.

The DHB has also leased the ninth floor of the KPMG building on the same site, to use as office and meeting room space, and some staff are already working from there, including HealthShare, a partner organisation.

Chris Cardwell, executive director facilities and business, said consolidating several services in the CBD made sense as existing CBD offices were nearing the end of their leases, and it was more efficient and cost effective to manage work space within a single connected footprint.

An artist’s impression of how the new DHB building will look.

“We decided to lease the former Farmers building in Hamilton CBD as a base for these services because of the unique footprint and scale. During the negotiations for the lease we were also able to leverage the transaction to lease the ninth floor of the KPMG Tower, directly above the main two level tenancy in the same cluster of buildings. We saw this as a good opportunity to provide more back office space for staff and co-locate more people together, to encourage collaborative working in a more flexible work space and help create future capacity.”

The Hockin Building on the Waikato Hospital campus is also being refurbished to address the unsatisfactory accommodation configuration in the building and make it more efficient. This will mean the DHB can move staff into the building from portacoms on the campus over the next 18 months, freeing up space on site to develop more clinical areas.

“The Hockin building has heavily partitioned workspaces and has had no investment for many years. The refurbishment will enable us to make more efficient use of the space, move more staff into this building and create a more collaborative environment with modern open plan working and shared meeting room space. We will also improve the public space in this building.”

He added: “All these facility changes not only let us manage our use of space and costs better but bring team members together, which helps services work better.”

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Geoff Taylor

Waikato Business News editor Geoff Taylor.
Email: geoff@wbn.co.nz

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