Paekakariki locals rally to save historic ‘old girl’
THE Paekakariki community is battling to save a relic from demolition.
The dilapidated Holtom’s Buildings, described by some as ‘‘an eyesore’’ alongside State Highway 1 near Paekakariki railway station, was earmarked for demolition but community representatives met with the owner this week and vowed to fight to save it.
Building owner John Fijn announced last month that the 87-year-old building might have to be demolished, possibly within weeks, but encouragement from the community has prompted a change of plans.
Mr Fijn is now seeking an engineer’s report to see if the building can be strengthened in order to meet stringent earthquake requirements. ‘‘I never wanted to demolish it. It totally alter the character village,’’ he said.
‘‘The community wants to keep it so we will just have to see how much it will cost to strengthen it.’’
A council review of old buildings in the area had identified Holtom’s as being potentially vulnerable to quakes.
Acceptable reinforcing for the 2000-square-metre, two-storey building on the corner of Beach Rd could cost up to $500,000.
Paekakariki Community Board deputy chairwoman Jenny Rowan said though the 1920 building was not classified as a heritage property, it was very important to the town, especially after the demolition of the historic Paekakariki Hotel.
‘‘We do not have many older buildings left that depict the character and railway history of the town. It will not be demolished would of the now or in the foreseeable future,’’ she said.
The community board’s chairman, Adrian Webster, described the building as an important relic.
‘‘There are a large number of buildings in the Wellington region facing expensive reinforcing work to comply with earthquake safety requirements.
‘‘We do not have a lot of historic buildings, it is vital we keep as many of them as possible.’’
The decision to try to save the building meant that plans for a delicatessen, bakery, juice bar and pizza business on the ground floor of the building were back on the agenda.
Leaseholder Earl Zapf said he was delighted with the decision.
‘‘We are going to hang in there, we have to save the old girl. We hope the council will come up with some solutions.’’
Solid support: Owner John Fijn never wanted to knock the building down, so delighted that the community has rallied to save it.