Quakes trigger tenants' departure

KAT DUGGAN
Last updated 06:57 30/07/2013
Porse House
Kat Duggan
Porse House
number one shoes
Kat Duggan
The Number One Shoe Warehouse remains closed after last weeks magnitude 6.5 earthquake.

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Porse House in Market St, Blenheim, will lose tenants as a consequence of the recent earthquake swarm.

Some organisations previously based there say they are opting to stay out of the building permanently.

More than 1800 jolts have struck the region since the initial 5.7- magnitude quake woke people early on Friday, July 19, including the "severe" 6.5 one at 5.09pm on July 21, and a 5.4 just after 1am yesterday.

Porse House tenants were concerned that its designer had also worked on Christchurch's notorious CTV building in which 115 people died in the quake on February 22, 2011.

The Market St building has been deemed safe by two engineers since the big July 21 jolt, but Child, Youth and Family, Marlborough Primary Health Organisation and Marlborough Community Law have elected to stay out of the building. "We won't be going back in," PHO chief executive Beth Tester said. "We are based on the Wairau Hospital site in the old Churchill Trust Building."

Ms Tester said the organisation was also looking for new premises in town, and the decision had been made to ensure the safety of staff and clients.

Community Law Marlborough manager Raewyn Tretheway also confirmed it would be vacating Porse House at the end of the month.

The spate of earthquakes that had shaken Marlborough since July 19 was not the sole reason for the move, Ms Tretheway said.

"Our lease is coming up at the end of the month and we have been looking to move to a premises that makes us more accessible to the public . . ." Ms Tretheway said.

Also, some clients did not want to visit the third-floor Community Law offices since the quakes , she said. Their new office would open next month at 16 Market St.

A spokesperson for Child, Youth and Family services said alternative arrangements had been made for the organisation, and it continued to operate in Marlborough.

About 17 staff would be working from the Work and Income, or Community Link building in Alfred St, while five would work from the Corrections Department district office in Seymour St.

"We're continuing to investigate other sites to bring the whole . . . team together while strengthening work gets under way on the Market St site [Porse House]," the spokesperson said.

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Building owner TH Barnes chief executive John Smithies said it was still waiting to hear from the organisations, and no leases had been terminated.

"Our tenants are our primary concern and we wouldn't leave them in our building if we didn't think it was safe."

Mr Smithies said strengthening work to the building began yesterday in the stairwells. It would be finished by next week.

More strengthening work was expected to be completed by the end of the year, or early next year.

His main concerns were the similarities that had been drawn between Porse House and the CTV building, which shared an architect.

"The architect designs the aesthetics of a building, not the structure; the structure was done by different engineers than the CTV building," he said. Last week Marlborough District Council chief executive Andrew Besley confirmed that council engineers were not concerned over any similarities to the CTV building.

Two tenants remained in Porse House - The Radio Network and Opus, a civil engineering company.

Meanwhile, the Number 1 Shoe Warehouse remains closed after last week's earthquake.

Council building control group leader Bill East said concern was raised over heavyweight tiles in the ceiling, and the decision was made to remove them. He said work was already under way, and the building might be able to reopen by the end of next week.

Members of the public had also raised concerns over the safety of Harvey Norman Blenheim, after cracks were seen in the plaster on the outside of the building.

A spokesperson for the company said the building had been inspected by an engineer, and was deemed safe to occupy. 

CTV engineer fights probe

- The Marlborough Express

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