Council to 'spend smart' on buildings

Decisions about the future of Palmerston North earthquake-prone buildings owned by the city council are likely to be made early next year.

The buildings in danger are the Square Edge, the Keith St power station, the Fitzherbert Park grandstand, the Kelvin Grove crematorium, the former Rugby Museum building in Cuba St, and the Albert St depot workshop.

The civic administration building also requires areas of strengthening.

A follow-up report on the estimated costs of strengthening the Square Edge building, which has the most serious problems around the rear courtyard, had been expected to be released before Christmas.

But property manager John Brenkley said decisions needed to be made in the context of the whole property portfolio.

Staff planned to compile all the information they had on all of the buildings into one report so councillors could understand what choices needed to be made and set overall priorities.

Otherwise, it would be tempting to make decisions about one building without thinking through the implications for others.

Councillors would have to consider the relative importance and value of the buildings, balanced against the likely costs of strengthening work needed to bring them up to standard.

"We are making sure we spend smart," said Mr Brenkley.

"Councillors will need to make some choices, based on all the information.

"The Keith St power station, for example, is a character building, but does not get a lot of use, whereas Square Edge has a very high profile and lots of people use it and visit."

He said it was important councillors had all of the information before any of the reports were released to the public.

The Square Edge and the Keith St power station are listed as category 1 heritage buildings in the city's District Plan.

Manawatu Standard