The owners of one of Wellington's landmark buildings has just $42,000 sitting in a fund to get it earthquake strengthened, falling well short of the $11 million that's needed.

The St Gerard's monastery and church buildings have been deemed earthquake prone and given a deadline of 2027 to get them strengthened.

They are rated at 25 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS), anything under 34 per cent is considered earthquake prone.

The buildings are viewed as a significant example of the Gothic revival style of architecture in New Zealand.

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They sit on a prominent clifftop above Oriental Bay and provide a visual landmark for the city.

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The buildings are currently owned by the International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation and are used as a mission centre.

The cost to get the buildings to 64 per cent NBS is estimated to cost $11m.

The biggest problem is the church, which is expected to soak up $8 million of the total strengthening cost.

Director of St Gerard's church and monastery Silvana Abela told the Herald several avenues were being pursued to raise money, including selling the property they also own at 1 Oriental Terrace.

It's expected the value of that sale would amount to more than $1 million.

The buildings are currently owned by the International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation and are used as a mission centre. Photo / Crispin Anderlini.
The buildings are currently owned by the International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation and are used as a mission centre. Photo / Crispin Anderlini.

Abela said they were also looking at fundraising options and were in contact with "major donors", but said she could not disclose further details while negotiations are ongoing.

Tens of thousands of dollars have already been spent on engineer and quantity surveyor reports.

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Currently, there's only $42,000 sitting in the St Gerard's Monastery Restoration Fund.

Abela said although they were not Kiwis, they understood the building was iconic in Wellington and they wanted to take responsibility for it.

"We've been using the building now for 30 years and it's our home, it's more than a home because we also operate out of this building. We love it, in fact we feel quite privileged living here on top of Mt Victoria."

The church was built in 1908 and the monastery in 1932 as a result of the combined efforts of Wellington architects John Swan and Frederick de Jersey Clere. Image / WCC.
The church was built in 1908 and the monastery in 1932 as a result of the combined efforts of Wellington architects John Swan and Frederick de Jersey Clere. Image / WCC.

She said they didn't look at the situation as a "headache" and the strengthening cost was just life.

"We will continue working towards it and I have a lot of faith that we'll manage to do it."

Abela confirmed they have applied to Wellington City Council for an extension of five years to get the church earthquake strengthened.

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The church was built in 1908 and the monastery in 1932 as a result of the combined effort of two of Wellington's most well-known architects, John Swan and Frederick de Jersey Clere.

The site was then owned by the Redemptorist fathers.

The buildings sit on top of Mt Victoria, which have spectacular views of Wellington. Photo / Crispin Anderlini.
The buildings sit on top of Mt Victoria, which have spectacular views of Wellington. Photo / Crispin Anderlini.

Wellington City Council Lambton Ward councillor Nicola Young said she was concerned about the future of the building and wanted to know what the plan was.

"I don't see any reason to make it a special case, I think we just have to make the owners realise that they have a timeline and if they can't raise the money and there's no sign of them being able to do that, then they have to do what any other property owner would do which is to sell it.

"I have suggested to the owners that they should sell it and move to a building where they can focus on their mission rather than worrying about strengthening a building which is a huge financial and engineering exercise."

Lambton Ward Wellington City councillor Nicola Young says she's concerned about the future of the building and wants to know what the plan is. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Lambton Ward Wellington City councillor Nicola Young says she's concerned about the future of the building and wants to know what the plan is. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

Maurice Clark, a Wellington developer who considers these heritage buildings his cup of tea, said St Gerard's would be difficult and expensive to strengthen.

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"They've got to sell and give the headache to someone else who can do something that will generate an income to pay for it. Spending all that money just on a retreat house of very low added value is never going to work."

Clark said a hotel or apartments were some of the only viable options.

The building is of solid brick construction, which is a big part of the problem, Clark said.

"Just imagine a stack of books in your library... if you stack them vertically you can sit on them and jump on them, but if you kick the bottom then they fall over."

Clark said buildings with architectural significance were a very emotive subject for those in the capital.

"You might look up at it and think what an ugly inappropriate piece of church architecture in the totally wrong place, but you'll never convince Wellingtonians of that."

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As a landmark building, St Gerard's became a centre for civil defence during WW2 and was sandbagged to protect it from fire as authorities believed that its destruction would be damaging to morale.

In 1982 a $100,000 fundraising campaign was carried out by the Wellington community to waterproof the exterior of the building.

But it was clear the premises were too large and expensive for the Redemptorists and the site was sold to the International Catholic Programme of Evangelisation to be used as a mission centre in 1990.