Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Goodbye Soho - big cover up set to start

The huge hole from the abandoned Soho Square development has disfigured Ponsonby for years.
Photo / Brett Phibbs
The huge hole from the abandoned Soho Square development has disfigured Ponsonby for years. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Tenders called for marathon task of filling Ponsonby's giant hole in the ground

The huge job of filling in part of Ponsonby's derelict 1.3ha Soho Square building site could start next month after tenders were advertised this week for contractors to submit their bids.

Chris Freer at Tonkin & Taylor is handling inquiries about the supply of clean fill for Auckland's biggest hole, from which 100,000cu m of earth was dug out in one of the country's most ambitious real estate developments.

A vast hole, 12m at its deepest point - equivalent to a four or five-level building - was dug by Fletcher Building subsidiary Brian Perry Civil for Marlin Group's Layne Kells, and a 6000sq m concrete slab and underslab drainage were laid.

Marlin raised the community's ire by seeking to build 25,000sq m of office space, 12,500sq m of retail area and 52 apartments on the site between Pollen St, Crummer Rd and Williamson Ave, and just off Ponsonby Rd.

Supermarket giant Progressive Enterprises, which operates Countdown stores, is now seeking tenders from suitably experienced contractors for the supply, placement and compaction of up to 24,000cu m of clean fill for the site.

It is planning to build a supermarket on the site.

"Fill must be documented as non-contaminated and non-volcanic in origin, that is alluvial or East Coast Bays formation material," Progressive said.

Work would start next month, subject to approval of a traffic management plan by Auckland Council.

Progressive has tried to get locals onside, meeting some groups to explain plans, a possible timetable and how the work will be done.

Wade To, Brian Perry's project manager on Soho, said the excavation three years ago was the country's second-largest after the Sky Tower.

Tender documents are available at Tonkin & Taylor's Newmarket offices, applications closing on January 6.

About 5000 truckloads of fill will be needed for the job, civil engineering experts estimate.

Brian Perry said the $13 million Soho dig finished in May 2008 and went according to plan.

"The construction works for the Soho development comprised a 1.3ha area up to five levels deep ... Brian Perry Civil's scope of works was to deliver ground retention for the site and level five basement slab," a firm spokesman said.

"The work scope included a contiguous bored pile wall, ground anchors, screw piles, soil nails and shotcrete walls," the spokesman said, explaining how a screwpile anchoring technique was used because of adverse ground conditions.

"Other challenges included crossing large brecciated fault zones and temporary slope design to deal with construction staging and considerable groundwater. The contract was finished within the agreed period."

Soho Square
* $30 million development by Progressive
*24,000cu m of fill to be trucked in
*5000 truckloads required
*12m at its deepest point

- NZ Herald

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