Paekakariki lo­cals rally to save his­toric ‘old girl’

The Dominion Post - - News - 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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