Almost four years on from the Kaikoura earthquake, Wellington City Council is still locked in negotiations with insurers over its Civic Administration Building.
The six-storey salmon-coloured building in Civic Square has been closed since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in 2016.
The council and insurer have been unable to agree on the cost of fixing the damage to the building.
More extensive investigations are being carried out to assess the extent of the damage and appropriate repair options, council spokesman Richard MacLean told the Herald.
"This process has been hampered by the discovery of new cracks in the floors necessitating additional propping to ensure the safety of the people working inside the building.
"That work is continuing."
It's one of several closed buildings which has turned Civic Square into a ghost town.
Construction to strengthen the Town Hall to 100 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS) is underway, but the neighbouring Municipal Office Building has been abandoned by council staff because of the noise.
Meanwhile, the Central Library was abruptly shut in March last year because of concerns relating to the partial collapse of Statistics House in the Kaikoura earthquake.
MacLean made assurances they were keen to resolve the dispute over the Civic Administration Building as soon as possible.
"The building is certainly not being ignored by the parties."
The building suffered structural damage in the Kaikoura earthquake sufficient for it to be evacuated because of health and safety concerns for anyone entering it.
It is closed to the public and is subject to security surveillance.
The building is not listed as earthquake prone on the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment's register.
In 2017, the council's then chief financial officer Andy Matthews said an initial assessment of the repair costs was between $30 million and $40 million.
But as apartment owners of earthquake-prone buildings have found out, the costs to strengthen buildings in Wellington can easily escalate in such a volatile construction industry.
The council has never publicly released engineering reports for the building while negotiations remain live.
A May 2018 city councillor workshop document indicated possible earthquake strengthening of the Civic Administration Building to 67 per cent NBS.
All other information was redacted to enable the council to carry on with negotiations without prejudice or disadvantage.
The Insurance Council of New Zealand stopped collecting data on the Kaikoura earthquake in December 2018 when more than 95 per cent of residential and commercial claims had been settled.
Chief executive Tim Grafton said it wasn't uncommon for insurance claims for damage to high-value commercial assets to involve several insurers and reinsurers, including entities not based in New Zealand.
"This can lead to more complexity when issues arise because of the number of parties involved, which can impact the amount of time taken to resolve and settle claims."
The Civic Administration Building is one of the last postmodern buildings constructed in Wellington and was completed in 1992.
The relatively low-scale building makes only a minor contribution to the heritage in the area, according to Wellington City Council records.
"While the exterior finish of the building, with its over-scaled pastiche of mock classical details, heavy aluminium windows and pink colouration, is out of place with its more elegant and carefully considered neighbours, it is at least easy to overlook."
The land Civic Square is built on was reclaimed by the council in the mid-1880s.
Over time, important buildings were erected including the Town Hall, Wellington Public Library and the Administration Building, until it was eventually transformed into a meaningful enclosed public space.