Strengthening work under way for Grey St shops

By Sandra Conchie


The owners of a two-storey building in downtown Tauranga are steaming ahead with earthquake-strengthening work - well ahead of the council's 10-year notice-to-fix timeframe.

Property Solutions' Simon Harris, who represents the Ngai Tukairangi Trust which owns the mid-1950s building on Grey St, confirmed earthquake-strengthening work began last week.

Three of the existing tenants, Hot Ginger, Mansworld and Personnel Resources, had temporarily moved to other parts of the city centre while the strengthening work was under way.

Mr Harris said: "My client is a very big landowner in Tauranga ... and they have decided to take the proactive opportunity to do work now."

He said the council's notice to fix was received in 2009 but after two years of planning the trust had decided to do the work now and expected it to be completed in three to four months.

"It makes sense for two main reasons.

"Delaying could have been perceived negatively by the existing tenants, knowing they were occupying a building which does not met the required code, and may also have put off future potential tenants. It makes commercial sense not to delay," Mr Harris said.

Three of the existing tenants would move back into the refurbished building, while two others had decided to relocate elsewhere.

The strengthening work mainly relates to the walls and steel beams.

While the facade of the building won't be changed much there would also be some modernisation of store frontages, Mr Harris said.

Once fixed the building would be strengthened to more than 70 per cent - well in excess of the 33 per cent required by the national earthquake-prone threshold.

Mr Harris said the $500,000 bill for the work included construction costs, engineering and design work, related council fees, restructuring tenants leases and the costs of relocating tenants.

Once the work is complete the owners believe the building will be worth more than $2 million.

Hot Ginger owner Chris Montgomerie has temporarily moved her gift shop to nearby Spring St.

"It has been quite disruptive for customers and myself, including losing a day's trade. Of course because of the downturn I would have preferred the landlord to have waited a couple more years but the work had to be done sometime."

Mrs Montgomerie said the landlord had taken a proactive approach to a huge problem, removing uncertainty about the building's future.

Mansworld owner Murray Watts, who has run the business from the building for past 13 years, shifted to the opposite side of Grey St.

He said relocating has been hugely disruptive but was glad the strengthened building would be a lot safer.

"It's going to be the safest little shop in Tauranga, perhaps in the world," he said.

At a meeting arranged by the local branch of the Property Council of New Zealand yesterday, landlords and commercial property owners heard more about some of the proposed changes to improve New Zealand's earthquake-prone building system.

That included a proposed faster timeframe for strengthening or demolishing buildings.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman Judy Glackin urged attendees to lodge submissions in response to the ministry's 50-page consultation document by March 8.

Their responses would help the Government respond to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission report and draft workable and robust building policy legislation, she said.

To make a submission go to www.dbh.govt.nz/consultingon-epbp or email epbreview@dbh@govt.nz


 

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