New building excites groups

By Laurel Stowell

Wanganui groups and agencies moving across Ridgway St and into a former post office building are sad to leave Community House but excited about their new home.

For the last 21 years, 18 groups and 50 to 60 staff have occupied offices in the Wanganui District Council-owned Community House in Ridgway St, with subsidised rent.

House manager Jan Dunphy estimates that between them they help about 15,000 people, and also save the community a lot of money by sharing reception and other facilities.

They decided to move out after they heard Community House had only five to 10 per cent of the earthquake strength now required. The council has waived any penalties for breaking their lease, which the groups appreciate.

The building they move to has 71 per cent earthquake strength, well above the 33 per cent required.

Sixteen of the groups in Community House will be starting the move across the street on November 19 or soon after. Two are not staying with them - Whanganui Safe and Free (formerly the Sexual Abuse Healing Centre) and the Wanganui MS Society are making other plans.

The big shift is likely to take three days. Agencies are hoping to keep working during it, but there may be some disruption.

They will occupy all of the former post office building's first floor, and two-thirds of the second floor. They share that with offices of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The ground floor has a mail room still in use, but there's some spare space there and elsewhere. They would love to have other service-oriented tenants move in with them.

Mrs Dunphy said she was delighted with the offices, which are all blessed with natural light from exterior windows and an interior light well.

The owner, Graham Fisher, has fitted the offices out for his new tenants, dividing large spaces, redecorating and adding three disabled toilets and some kitchen facilities. The building has a conference room, a lift and an interview room for casual use.

Mrs Dunphy said the rent was higher than at Community House, but still "a good deal". She doubted whether any of the groups would ever move back.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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