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Gisborne: Council’s offices to be strengthened or rebuilt

24 November 2011

Original Council’s offices to be strengthened or rebuilt

The ground under Gisborne District Council’s original two-storey office block will be investigated before a decision is made on whether to strengthen the existing building or replace it.

The 1954 Fitzherbert Street building does not meet new building standards and has been deemed earthquake prone. A notice to repair within five years has been issued by Council’s building services section. Because the office block is considered critical to respond to civil defence emergencies, it has to be strengthened to a higher degree than a retail store or private home. Currently it is only 19 percent of the required strength.

Council has agreed to investigate ground conditions on the site and get a geotechnical report. The draft Ten Year Plan budget will include $3.4m to replace or strengthen the building.

There is a lot more investigation to be done, decisions to be made and tenders sought before we decide on a final option says Mayor Meng Foon. “We must lead by example and the first step to getting this done is putting it in the budget as a major capital project. We will consult with the community on the project through our Ten Year Plan process next year.”

There is no immediate risk to customers or staff says building services manager Ian Petty. “Nothing has changed to affect the actual strength of the building but the bar has lifted. We require all building owners to strengthen their buildings if they don’t meet the code so we have to show leadership in this area. In the end it is all about safe guarding the lives of people and their property.”

“I have just returned from speaking to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission. They are considering how unreinforced masonry buildings performed during their quakes and the legislation that governs Councils’ earthquake prone building policies. Gisborne is seen as being proactive in this area and having effective policies.”

A report to Council this week advised replacing the old part of the Fitzherbert Street building at an estimated cost of $3.4m rather than spending $1.7 million strengthening it to modern earthquake standards.

Initial estimates of $1.7m to strengthen the building have been received, says property manager Matt Feisst. “The strengthening required is substantial and would require huge changes to the internal layout. Because of the design of the building, support is required between the beams to stop any lateral or twisting movement during an earthquake. Shear walls would need to be installed between columns to give the support required to the structure. This would significantly reduce office space which would have to be found elsewhere.”

“This is a relatively old building. Normal wear and tear, replacement of the roof, lift and windows, are all included in our maintenance programme. They are likely to cost $254,000 in the medium term.”

The proposed rebuild would for a 1200 square metre building. The initial estimate of $3.4m includes the cost of demolishing the existing building, building a new one including all services such as a lift and mechanical items, approximate costs of relocation and fit-out for temporary premises.

The original 1954 Gisborne City Council office block is the only part of the complex affected. It is the two storey section at the front of the complex on the corner of Ormond Road and Fitzherbert Street. The single story extension which includes Council’s customer services and the 2003 two story extension facing the Taruheru River are not affected.

ENDS

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