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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti

Physical condition

A preliminary assessment on the building indicated it needs some expenditure to fully secure it and make it watertight.

To return it to public use, the building needs essential repairs and remedial work including seismic strengthening, fire safety upgrades and provision of disabled access.

There would be further costs to upgrade the building’s appearance, services and facilities.

The performance space at Sammy’s occupies the entire footprint of the building and has limited services and facilities for live music and other performances.

360 degree video

View the 360 degree video to see what the interior of Sammy’s looks like today.

Planning, building and resource consents

Under the Second Generation District Plan (the 2GP), which is yet to be finalised, Sammy’s is a scheduled heritage building located within the Warehouse Precinct. In the 2GP, the following uses are permitted activities:

  • retail
  • conference, meeting and function
  • entertainment and exhibition
  • restaurant
  • office
  • training and education
  • visitor accommodation
  • community and leisure
  • sport and recreation
  • industrial
  • residential

Case studies

Across New Zealand and Australia, many former theatres and cinemas have been demolished. This is often because of the high land values of theatres and cinemas in city centres. This building’s location and its leasehold status mean this has not happened.

A number of heritage buildings in Dunedin have already been adapted for modern use. There are also many similar examples around the world.

In parts of the United Kingdom disused theatres and cinemas have found new uses such as bingo halls, gig venues, nightclubs, conference centres and churches. Further afield, the El Ateneo is a downtown bookshop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that was converted from a former theatre.

Examples of re-used Dunedin buildings

Former Chief Post Office, Princes Street

After many years of sitting vacant, and a few false starts, the former Chief Post Office of Dunedin was redeveloped over 2014 – 2016 into a multi-use building with tenants including offices and a hotel.

Former Donald Reid Store, Vogel Street

The former wool and grain store was converted from a storage facility into the Dunedin offices for ADInstruments in 2013.

International examples of re-used theatre spaces

Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen, Leeds UK

Originally built in 1934 as the Leeds Children’s Palace, a three storey recreation hall and nursery school to provide childcare support for the working families of Leeds. The building was restored and now hosts a 200-capacity event space for live music, comedy, film and art exhibitions as well as two restaurant bars and a roof terrace.

Kaset Skate Park and Music Community, King’s Lynn UK
Originally known as the Shed, the Kaset Skate Park and Music Community is a large indoor street skate park facility and a music venue.

The Compound, Birmingham UK
A former textile factory that has been transformed into a multi-functional creative space and features a bar, 25-seat cinema, offices and apartments.

Village Underground, London UK

Village Underground started in 2006, with the aim of building affordable studios for creative people who were struggling to get a foothold in London. Four tube carriages and two shipping containers were converted into co-working spaces.

El Ateneo, Buenos Aires Argentina

Preserving the splendour and elegance of the former Gran Splendid theatre/cinema, the venue was converted into one of the world’s best bookstores in 2000.

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