Quake repairs set to prise open Oyster's wallet

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 08:21 10/12/2013
Colonial House

QUAKE WORK: Colonial House in Lower Hutt, which may need strengthening to meet seismic standards required for buildings housing government agencies.

Eagle Technology
Permanent repairs to damaged stairways in Eagle Technology House will not be completed till march. Tenants, who have opted to stay out of the building, are still paying rent.

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Auckland's Oyster Group is facing big bills for repairs and strengthening work on three Wellington buildings damaged in the July and August earthquakes.

The company has a 72 per cent share in the body corporate which owns the James Smiths car park that was closed in July.

Chief executive Mark Shiele said engineers were assessing what needed to be done and work would not now start until next year. He did not yet have costings.

It also had problems in Eagle Technology House in Victoria St where the quakes caused stairways to crack.

Tenants were required to vacate the building while steel props were used to shore up the stairway landings pending further repair.

Shiele said tenders for repair work were about to be let and he hoped permanent repairs, costing an estimated $400,000, would be completed by March.

Tenants had been allowed back into the building but none had yet moved back in. However, lease agreements were still in place and tenants were continuing to pay rent as it was their choice not to reoccupy their offices.

Colonial House in High St, Lower Hutt, which was leased to ACC and the Ministry of Social Development, also suffered damage in the July 21 quake when a water pipe burst.

Shiele estimated the cost of repairs, including carpet drying, came to about $50,000 but more strengthening work might be required to meet government department requirements.

The building was seismically assessed as being between 34 and 67 per cent of the new standard.

However, further engineering assessments were now being done to determine what was required to lift the rating to over 67 per cent, as required by government agencies.

Even though their staff had moved to other offices, the ministry and ACC were continuing to pay rent as they had not been forced to vacate - it was their option to move staff out, said Shiele.

"The tenants want to get back in as soon as possible . . . and at the end of the day we're all working to the same goal."

He was unable to say what the quakes would cost the Oyster Group.

Although the buildings were insured, he expected it would have to pick up the costs as they were less than the 5 per cent excess it had on its policies.

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- The Dominion Post

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