The large building on McDougall Street next to the Anglican church is quite noticeable by now — the curved architecture and immense size, meant something impressive was going in that space. But all previously held notions about a community house are blown out of the water: this isn’t a drafty hall with an equipment cupboard for the Boy Scouts.
This is a conference centre, a wedding venue, a commercial kitchen, office spaces, meeting rooms, reception areas — spacious, contemporary and warm, and it’s opening its doors this Sunday for all of Wanaka to come and see what’s taking shape.
Gina Treadwell who is the centre manager has done a mammoth job of raising $3 million for the build, “But we’ve exhausted our grant applications now,” she said. “We need to raise another $800,000. We can complete the build because some people have given us very generous loans that have to be paid back. But it’s so much harder to raise funds retrospectively once it’s already open.”
Treadwell is asking Wanaka to open their wallets to push the project over the line. “We have a website where people can donate, and pledge forms… but we need everyone to contribute something. The hard thing I am recognising is that people over 50 know all about it (the trustee age group) but a real lack of awareness of the younger ones who are going to be the ones who use it.”
There is no doubt that almost everyone who lives in Wanaka, will use the Community House at some point in the future, “We have a conference room that can seat 150 with a lot more standing, so we can do weddings, funerals, art exhibitions, music lessons, trade shows, and work functions. But we have a 10pm curfew so it won’t be a party venue.”
Groups that have already committed to the Community House and will take residency there as soon as it opens include: Community Networks, Anglican Church, Jigsaw, Presbyterian Services, Volunteering Central, Anglican Family Care, Community Care Trust and the Southern DHB. “But we have many more finalising their plans,” said Treadwell. “And we are also working with groups to hold art exhibitions and run art classes and music lessons from the hub.”
The Community House is opening is (unfinished) doors this Sunday, July 14 from 11am to 2pm to welcome locals to come and have a look at the facility.