Building owners find middle ground

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WITH the debate for and against saving Invercargill’s inner city heritage buildings a hot topic, one property owner has successfully settled on the middle ground – partial demolition.

The Invercargill City Council (ICC) has granted resource consent for the partial demolition of a class two heritage building situated at 28 Esk St, owned by the McPherson Family Partnership.

The three-storey unreinforced brick building and unreinforced masonry facade were built in the 1880s and purchased by the present owners in 1994.

Work had been carried out to earthquake strengthen the building in 2005, but it had been ineffective and the building was deemed earthquake prone at 25% of the New Building Standard.

“They had done a heck of a lot to save it, but it didn’t work out,” ICC resource management officer Peter Maynard said.

“The owners are showing a real commitment to staying in the game [by undertaking partial demolition] because I don’t know the costings, but I imagine it would have been cheaper to start again.”

The consent is for the removal of the top section of the building’s heritage classified facade and reinforcing the remaining facade, demolition of the two upper levels of the building and reroofing the ground floor.

Ian McPherson, McPherson Family Partnership said this option was “the best compromise we could come up with which works for the widest range of stakeholders”.

Some of the building’s facade would be retained while the most dangerous sections removed, creating a good quality space for retail on the ground floor, he said.

It was expected the work would begin in April/May and the building ready for tenancy late this year, he said.

Mr Maynard said this consent was not a template for other property owners.

“Each case is treated on its own merits.”

The applicants in this case had provided robust information which had given the council confidence to approve it, he said.

Reducing the building’s height would bring it in line with other buildings in the street, giving the street better symmetry, while still maintaining its heritage appearance, he said.

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