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17th of January 2018

International



Former gas station getting a makeover just in time for a community Christmas

ROSA WOODS/STUFF.

Martin Hanley and Fulton Hogan are transforming an old Caltex station into a community centre for Newtown.

A decommissioned petrol station in Newtown is getting a new lease on life, thanks to a handful of community initiatives and a whole lot of manpower. 

Work to get the site, on Riddiford St, ready for the new year began this week, with a team of Fulton Hogan contractors providing their time and the necessary materials free-of-charge.

Newtown Festival director Martin Hanley is one of those leading the charge in activating the site as a community space.

Newtown Festival director Martin Hanley, centre, with Colin Ruri, left, and Ralph Markes from Fulton Hogan. ROSA WOODS/STUFF

Newtown Festival director Martin Hanley, centre, with Colin Ruri, left, and Ralph Markes from Fulton Hogan.

"Our whole festival ethos is quite similar to what Gap Filler, [in Christchurch] is doing. That's what we're trying to do for Newtown and Wellington."

READ MORE:* Kia Ora Newtown connects residents with each other and the council* Us Two: Newtown Festival founders Martin Hanley and Anna Kemble Welch* Gap Filler celebrates five years of brightening Christchurch's vacant spaces

While there are plans for the site to eventually be used for new housing, the owners decided that  in the meantime  they would allow the philanthropic use of it by Hanley and his team.

The original dance-O-mat in Christchurch was devised by Gap Filler as a way to activate empty spaces, post-quake.

The original dance-O-mat in Christchurch was devised by Gap Filler as a way to activate empty spaces, post-quake.

Hanley estimates that they'll have use of the site for at least the next two years. Following that, he's confident another site would be easily found to "keep a good thing going".

The space, which will be known as The Caltex Project, will be home to four main activities and organisations, including Mechanical Tempest and Rebicycle as well as Newtown Festival's dance-O-mat and a children's bike track.

"[At Mechanical Tempest] you'll be able to bring your knackered bike in and volunteers will teach you how to oil the chain, inflate tyres, straighten bent wheels – everything really," Hanley says.

The former Caltex station in Newtown will soon be home to a dance space, bicycle track and repair workshop. ROSA WOODS/STUFF

The former Caltex station in Newtown will soon be home to a dance space, bicycle track and repair workshop.

"They won't do it for you but they'll stand right next to you to make sure you learn how to do it all properly."

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However, that's not the part that has Hanley the most excited.

"In the middle, there is going to be a free public outdoor dance pavilion ... That's definitely the coolest bit of all this."

The dance-O-mat originated in Christchurch as a way to reactivate empty spaces post-quake, through the Gap Filler project.

"One of the designers of that mat was originally a student of mine and so we actually bought the license off them to bring it to Wellington."

The dance space is set to launch in January after a number of sound tests are conducted with nearby neighbours to make sure it's set to a reasonable volume level. It will not operate overnight.

The entire project is being supported by Wellington City Council, through Kia Ora Newtown and its community liaison advisor Ray Tuffin.

"He is all over every social initiative, every bit of maintenance work – basically everything around Newtown so he was the one who asked Fulton Hogan to come on board and help," Hanley says.

Work to smooth the former forecourt is first up in the list of things to do, to ensure the site is ready to go in 2018.

 - Stuff

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