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Centreport to demolish Stats House, fate of land unclear

Centreport to demolish Stats House, fate of land, BNZ Building unclear

By Sophie Boot

Oct. 10 (BusinessDesk) - Centreport will demolish Wellington's Statistics House following the damage the building sustained in the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, it has confirmed.

In a statement, Centreport said the 12 year-old building's insurers have decided the building is not economically viable to repair and it will now apply to Wellington City Council for consents to safely demolish the five-storey office block.

A spokesperson said the future use of the land was yet to be determined, and Centreport hasn’t taken a decision yet whether to rebuild on that site, or to use it for other purposes. The port company is still working with its engineers and insurers on the status of the BNZ building, it said.

In March, an investigation commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation found the building performed unacceptably in the shaking and could have caused fatalities. Two floors of the building partially collapsed in the Nov. 14 earthquake, and the building was declared a no-go zone the next morning, with entry prohibited since. The nearby headquarters of the Greater Wellington Regional Council were also declared unsafe, as was the Bank of New Zealand's Wellington headquarters, also on port land.

CentrePort was forced to suspend operations immediately following the Nov. 14 Kaikoura earthquake as it dealt with damage to its buildings and liquefaction. Since then it has been able to modify its operations to resume services such as ferries, oil terminals, log exports, break bulk cargo and cruise shipping.

The company reported a $35.7 million loss in the first half of its financial year due to earthquake damage, which it described as the biggest adverse event in its history.

The first-half result included $68.7 million of asset impairments, excluding land, due to the earthquake, and a $20.4 million hit to the value of its property. The value of its equity at Dec. 31 fell to $127 million, from $213 million at June 30 2016 as the value of port land was written down by $50 million.

The company said it had received $54 million in insurance proceeds to date and expected additional funds in the second half of the year to bolster its annual result. Centreport's annual results are due this week.

When the independent report was released in March, Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith said the government would amend the Concrete Structures Standard this year to ensure new buildings can cope with beam elongation during earthquakes, one of the factors found to have contributed to the partial failure of lower floor segments. Smith also said he had asked MBIE to report whether it needs additional powers under the Building Act to require building owners to follow up on problems.

Stats NZ staff have occupied other buildings in central Wellington since late 2016 and have leases in place for at least another year. The Government Property Group (GPG) is now looking more broadly at accommodation for Wellington-based agencies, including Statistics NZ.



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