25 May 2024

Founders fate decided, sad but time to move on, says Mayor

Hamilton City Council has finally made a decision today on the fate of Founders Theatre after several years of closure, debate and community engagement.

Council will now go ahead with the building’s demolition to make way for development of an inner-city park. A timeline will now be established to remove the building in the next 12 months. 

Founders Theatre
Founders Theatre, opened in 1962, will be demolished (Photo/HCC)

Feeling nostalgic about Founders Theatre, Mayor Paula Southgate says Council had abided with desires of the community, and it was time to move on.

“Our community has indicated they want us to get on with enhancing and activating the West Town Belt, so that’s what we’re going to do.

“Today’s decision is sad. There is a lot of nostalgia associated with Founders, but it’s necessary that we now move on,” said Mayor Southgate.

Founders Theatre, which opened in 1962, has hosted world-famous musicians and stage performances throughout the years. 

Since its closure, it has been a hot topic on Council agendas. After three community consultations, Council agreed in 2020 to demolish the building and turn it into a multi-purpose park.  

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TOTI were first given until 31 December 2021 to submit their full and final proposal for a redevelopment of the Founders Theatre site. Due to COVID-19 disruption, this timeframe was extended till 31 March 2022. 

On 12 May 2022, Council’s long-held plan to transform the site into a multi-purpose park and community space was confirmed, and TOTI’s proposal was declined.  

In its 14 September 2022 meeting Council’s elected members voted to include the Founders Theatre site as part of a central city community facilities business case. The transformation of the Founders Theatre site, approved at 2021-31 Long-Term Plan, was on hold until the report was considered by the newly elected Council in March 2023.

After Founders Theatre was closed in 2016, Momentum Waikato approached Council with a proposal to develop a new Waikato Regional Theatre. 

Construction is underway of the new theatre, with funding coming from Hamilton City Council, Waikato Regional Council, central Government and private contributors. 

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