His­toric civic tower’s fate still up in the air

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

Auck­land may end up stuck with an as­bestos-rid­dled build­ing and no wrig­gle room if moves to give it the high­est pro­tec­tions are made.

The fate of the Civic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing could be de­cided by a panel of in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers.

Her­itage New Zealand wants the city cen­tre build­ing at 1 Greys Ave to be pro­tected un­der the Uni­tary Plan as ei­ther cat­e­gory A or B.

If it is marked cat­e­gory A, Auck­land Coun­cil will not be able to de­mol­ish it and could be re­stricted on what it can do to make the build­ing hab­it­able.

Her­itage NZ has out­lined its de­sire for the build­ing to be pro­tected in a sub­mis­sion to the Uni­tary Plan.

Hear­ings on the Uni­tary Plan kicked off this month and are ex­pected to fin­ish in April.

The her­itage group Civic Trust Auck­land says the Civic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing lines up with the cri­te­ria for cat­e­gory A.

In­de­pen­dent ex­perts have also told coun­cil the build­ing be­longs in cat­e­gory A.

But coun­cil’s own her­itage unit says it mer­its a B.

Coun­cil­lors Chris Darby and John Wat­son say the build­ing has an ar­chi­tec­tural sig­nif­i­cance as the city’s first modernist struc­ture.

Darby says

it could be­come a cen­tre for the arts.

Its fate has been un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion since April.

Three op­tions have been put for­ward: A $78 mil­lion full re­fur­bish­ment into a mod­ern of­fice, a $60m con­ver­sion into a res­i­den­tial build­ing, or demo- lition. The lat­ter op­tion could cost up to $12.5m, Auck­land Coun­cil says.

A re­port on the op­tions will come back to coun­cil­lors in Fe­bru­ary.

Some coun­cil­lors moved out of Greys Ave last week and the build­ing is ex­pected to be empty by the end of the month.

The tower was de­signed in the mid-1950s and built in 1966. It is made up of steel, in­clud­ing floors and struc­tural walls, with an alu­minium-framed fa­cade.

It has three base­ment lev­els and 18 above-ground lev­els.

The build­ing is in dire need of ma­jor up­grades.

The ex­ter­nal fa­cade is fail­ing, needs earth­quake strength­en­ing and as­bestos re­moval, to name a few of the is­sues.

Auck­land City Coun­cil re­moved 350 tonnes of as­bestos from the build­ing in 1989 but parts of the build­ing could not be reached.

About $50,000 a year is spent keep­ing an eye on the as­bestos. There is a risk the as­bestos could move via ven­ti­la­tion and cladding. The op­tions pre­sented to coun­cil­lors are based on mar­ket feed­back, sought by com­mer­cial prop­erty firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). JLL was ap­pointed to the project by Auck­land Coun­cil Prop­er­ties Ltd.

Un­cer­tain fu­ture: The Civic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing has been plagued by as­bestos.

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