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Building on corner of Childers Road, Customhouse Street set for demolition

An unstrengthened, earthquake-prone building on the corner of Childers Road and Customhouse Street is to make way for a new, environmentally-friendly office space.

Waikura Group manager Matt Feisst says all options were looked at around the unsafe building which Gisborne District Council has issued a notice for compliance.

A resource consent has been granted for the removal of the building — formerly the Trades and Labour Hall — with some strict conditions to protect the public and stakeholders.

“We thoroughly investigated all options to strengthen the building and keep it usable but it was simply not possible to get it to a satisfactory long-term level,” says Mr Feisst.

The original brief to Architects 44 was to strengthen the building and make it a space suitable for modern offices, but company director James Blackburne said extensive engineering investigations found the construction and materials used made it “incredibly” problematic.

Waikura engaged leading heritage architect and consultant Jeremy Salmond to review the heritage value of the building and the engineering proposal to see if it could be saved.

“I did a careful analysis,” said Mr Salmond. “While it is an old building with a history, it had been so completely changed that any historic significance had disappeared.

“It is no longer the authentic building it once was.”

The building was built in 1912 but extensive alterations were done in the 1940s when the parapets and oriel window were removed, and then altered again in the 1960s, 1980s and 2007.

In recognition of the history of 22 Childers Road, as many products as possible from the old building, including native timber, will be reused in the construction of the new building.

All brick and concrete rubble needs to be reused, which may mean it is crushed for road base. Investigations are under way to see if it can be reused as aggregate for the concrete for the new build and as a sub-base for the foundation.

The building is not on the Heritage New Zealand schedule, differing in status to the neighbouring USSCO and other nearby buildings.

It is, however, on the district council's central business district heritage schedule for its facade and that is why it required a resource consent for demolition.

Tenders are being considered for the work.

GOING DOWN: The building on the corner of Childers Road and Customhouse Street is to be removed. Changes to the building, which dates back to 1912, have taken away any historical significance. Pictures by Ben Cowper

  1. Dein Ferris says:

    Bit like the previous District Council Chambers,they didn’t collapse in an earthquake either. Makes one wonder,the building has stood with a few alterations since 1912 and is still standing. What’s next?

    1. Neil Davis says:

      Very good point you have made