Commercial property owners who don't meet a deadline to secure masonry on their buildings should have their premises vacated and blocked by containers, a Wellington property developer says.
The Wellington City Council is looking at providing further support for the owners of 96 buildings in the city ordered to secure unreinforced masonry and facades to protect the public in another major earthquake.
The March 31 deadline is approaching - and with it a potential $200,000 fine for those who haven't complied - but none of the work has been completed yet.
The City Strategy Committee today voted to investigate loans for building owners at a lower rate than banks would give to help them afford the work. The money would be paid back through their rates.
The committee is also redirecting an underspent $240,000 into programme management - helping businesses organise the work at better prices.
Because the risk of a major earthquake in the capital is three times higher than it was before last year's Kaikoura earthquake, the Government amended the Building Act to address the increased risk to public safety from falling masonry and facades in a significant aftershock.
It ordered in January that affected buildings be made secure by March, and announced a $3 million package to help owners, of which $2 million was allocated to Wellington City.
The council allocated a further $1 million from the Built Heritage Incentive Fund.
Property developer Richard Burrell, of Building Solutions, told the committee this morning there was no need for the council to fund commercial property owners.
"It's not your job to become a bank," he said.
"They're big boys, they're able to do it.
"Stick to your deadline. If they haven't commenced work we need containers put in front of the shops and buildings vacated, because once they lose their income stream, they will come to the market.
"These people are not responsible owners. Give our students and tourists that occupy these streets the safety that they deserve."
A report to the committee said about half of the building owners wanted to do the securing work at the same time as structural strengthening, making it difficult for many to meet the deadline.
There were 34 buildings with complex issues that needed active management. They were either particularly large buildings with significant affects on neighbours and traffic, had complex ownership models, couldn't secure finance or contractors, or were candidates for demolition.
Twenty-seven building owners have started planning and 35 are either under way with planning or have started or were about to start physical work.
Wellington businessman Chris Parkin said the loans should be available for seismic upgrading as well as the short-term work.
Committee chairwoman councillor Iona Pannett said there would be some form of means-testing to ensure money was not given to owners who didn't need help.
"Where a building can stand on its own two feet, that is just good news for the city."
Councillor Peter Gilberd said it was important to keep an eye on the priority, which was "to stop bits of concrete falling on people's heads".
Councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman said he was "broadly supportive" of the committee's decision.
He said the cooperate but financially challenged, the "disconnected, confused, generally reluctant, or let's hope it all goes away group", the financially secure, and the "absolutely disconnected and non-cooperative group" were the affected groups.
"We shouldn't be in the business of subsidising the building owner who has every means of doing the work themselves."