Hooray, at last some sign of movement on the revamp of Courtenay Central. Heaven only knows that it needs it. Closed a few months ago overnight, for unspecified seismic reasons, it has also been obvious for a long time that it needed more than just a seismic paintbrush in its touch-up kit. A dying retail screwup both downstairs and upstairs, with no drawcard to pull people through the mini-mall, most of the retail customers had left long ago, and the whole place felt tired and trashy. That soul-less black ceiling; the stupidity of having a cinema as a major drawcard, but only if you traverse right through the entire mall and then enter from the rear to go upstairs; the ugly, tired and tacky front facade: something had to give.
The good news is that they have hired some decent architects to guide the revamp: Stapleton Elliott. They’re the architects who did the revamp of the downstairs of the Embassy theatre (the Black Sparrow bar) and that has always had a pretty good feel about it, with that wonderful time tunnel effect to get to the movies down below the Grand. The Embassy has, of course, become (once more) the best drawcard for movie-goers in Wellington since the Reading and the Paramount closed down. Always has been number one in my books.
Some blurred and tiny pictures have somehow been sneaked out and published by Stuff, in which it seems that the black ceiling may go, and a large tree somehow has grown inside the Reading development on Courtenay. Stuff confuses things a little by implying that the existing building may be demolished, and also claiming that a Convention Centre is to be built on a site where the building is covered in multi-coloured sharks. Seeing as the sharks are down next to New World supermarket, and seeing as the City Council are already planning a Convention Centre of its own opposite Te Papa, that makes it sound as though Wellington is on track for two convention centres, almost next to each other. Surely not?! Is that just the Stuff reporter getting things wrong and, well, making Stuff up?
No news yet whether Reading are going to do anything with the area out the back (shown here in an appetising render we did for them back in 2013). I’m not sure why they didn’t bite at that one. Better luck for Stapleton Elliott on that one then. If Stapleton’s want to send us some better quality images then they know how to do it: email through to: contact @ eyeofthefish dot org