Firms snared in Parnell quake-proofing
Earthquake strengthening work threatens to disrupt the lives of Parnell businesspeople for a year.
A stone building at 217-221 Parnell Rd is one of 725 properties found to be potentially earthquakeprone by Auckland Council.
Kim Helas says her Passion for Paper shop will go online during the strengthening work and reopen in 2015.
She had to carefully consider her options when she heard about the upgrade but she loves the premises and wants to stay.
‘‘It’s the building, with those bones, high ceilings, the beautiful leadlight windows.
‘‘It’s part of that whole feel of something beautiful from a bygone era that can still be enjoyed in this time,’’ she says.
‘‘A lot associate shop.’’
Helas has been in business in Parnell for 18 years. She says it was hard to shut the doors on August 3 but it will benefit the business in the long run.
‘‘When things are thrown at you, you can only sit in that limbo stage for so long until you turn it into a positive.
‘‘This is affecting a lot of people. I’ve talked to people in Remuera, in the city, of my customers
that with the
the same everywhere, situation.’’
Her landlord Tom Webster says work should begin by the end of the month. And it’s a costly job – Webster is spending more than $1 million to strengthen the building.
He can understand why some owners have to abandon older buildings but the thought never crossed his mind.
The building dates back to about 1880 and has been in his family for about 70 years, he says.
‘‘If there was no Websters on Parnell Rd, it would be a sad day. I think the generations in the family would come down and haunt me if I didn’t own it.’’
He was told by the council the building is on its heritage list and has to adhere to specific regulations, he says.
But a council spokesperson says 217-221 Parnell Rd is not listed in either the district plan or proposed Unitary Plan. It is also missing from the New Zealand Heritage List.
Parnell Heritage co-chair Julie Hill says the register of historic buildings is incomplete. There are plenty of old buildings worth preserving in Parnell, she says.
‘‘There should be some notification on the street to let people who care about the suburb know what’s happening. We see something and think is this building going to be demolished or earthquake strengthened?’’
Parnell Inc general manager Cheryl Adamson says the suburb has always held heritage close to its heart.
Modern development is now adding diversity to the suburb, she says.
‘‘In Parnell there’s this incredibly interesting diversity and eclectic mix of modern buildings going in next to heritage ones. That mix is what’s going to make the Parnell of the future very exciting.’’
The council has carried out about 6000 initial seismic assessments on pre1976 commercial and large residential buildings in the region. So far, 725 have been classified as potentially earthquake-prone.
A council spokesperson says classifications are subject to change if additional information comes to hand such as a detailed seismic assessment from the owner.
The council is ‘‘prudently awaiting’’ the final form of earthquake-strengthening legislation from Parliament which might have a significant impact on the issue in Auckland, he says.
Going online: Businesswoman Kim Helas is moving out of Parnell while her store is earthquake strengthened.