25 Jul 2013

Developer wants to demolish listed building

3:18 pm on 25 July 2013

One of the developers of a heritage listed building in Wellington says damage caused by Sunday's earthquake will strengthen the case to have it demolished.

The owner of the Harcourts Building on Lambton Quay has applied to demolish it because he says strengthening the Category 1 listed building is not commercially viable. Mark Dunajtschik is appealing to the Environment Court against a decision not to allow demolition.

Co-developer Grant Coleison said the 6.5-magnitude earthquake caused significant cracks throughout the structure, including to the foundations and unreinforced masonry. "Anything worse than last Sunday could well see substantial damage," he said.

"The Historic Places Trust seem hell-bent on saving what is just an old dunger that nobody wants to occupy. It's what we've argued for the last two years with them, that the building cannot be saved economically and is not worth saving."

The Historic Places Trust says because the matter is before the courts it is not in a position to comment.

Public Trust Building

Damage to another listed building has made it unsafe to occupy but a Wellington City councillor says it will probably not be torn down.

The old Public Trust Building on Lambton Quay is home to Creative New Zealand, which abandoned its offices after engineers advised the building was no longer safe to be in.

Heritage advocates fear demolition gangs could be called in, but councillor Iona Pannett says that cannot happen.

Ms Pannett told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme the building cannot be demolished because it has Category 1 heritage status. She said it is likely to cost about $1 million to repair.