Reading Cinemas


The Wellington City Council has unveiled comprehensive details regarding its $32 million agreement with Reading Cinemas.

The cinema complex situated on Courtenay Place has been a prominent eyesore in the heart of the city since its classification as earthquake-prone in 2019.

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Initially presented to councillors in October, a proposal aimed at addressing the property’s issues was intended to remain confidential due to commercial sensitivities but was leaked to the public.

Subsequently, Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau initiated an independent investigation into city councillors Nicola Young, Iona Pannett, Ray Chung, Tony Randle, and Dianne Calvert.

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Reading Cinemas. Photo: Google Maps

Under the proposed arrangement, the council would purchase the land beneath Reading Cinemas for $32 million, subsequently leasing it back to the current owners on a perpetually renewable 21-year lease. The agreement grants the company the initial right to repurchase the land within the first 15 years of the lease term.

Following the first decade of the lease, the council retains the option to sell the land to another party.

According to the council, the annual rental payments from Reading Cinemas would sufficiently cover the council’s borrowing and other expenses, ensuring fiscal neutrality for ratepayers.

The agreement stipulates that the council will finalize the deal and disburse the remaining funds to Reading Cinemas only upon satisfaction that the new building design aligns with desired civic outcomes and secures resource consent.

During the upcoming city council meeting on Thursday, councillors will deliberate on whether to proceed with the agreement.

Mayor Whanau emphasized the council’s duty to cultivate a vibrant city center accessible to all, irrespective of age, gender, or ethnicity, where residents and visitors can safely enjoy leisure activities.

He underscored the significance of revitalizing the Courtenay Precinct, particularly in reinstating the Reading Courtenay complex as a cornerstone of entertainment in Te Aro.

Whanau described the agreement as an exceptionally favorable solution, addressing the longstanding concerns voiced by Wellingtonians and reflecting the community’s desire for action.