The Dominion Post

Paekakarik­i locals rally to save historic ‘old girl’

- KAY BLUNDELL

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.’’

 ?? Picture: KAY BLUNDELL ?? Solid support: Owner John Fijn never wanted to knock the building down, so delighted that the community has rallied to save it.
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Picture: KAY BLUNDELL Solid support: Owner John Fijn never wanted to knock the building down, so delighted that the community has rallied to save it. is

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