An opportunity to rebuild
The Mitchell Sports store and building in Wynen St in central Blenheim is to come down, and work may begin in a few weeks.
Demolition of the Podium Hotel next door has provided an opportunity for Blenheim retailer Robin Mitchell to fast-track plans to raze his own quake-prone building.
But the two damaging quake events to hit Marlborough in the past month were not pivotal to his decision, he said.
"About 25 boxes fell to the floor following the 6.5 quake, and about 500 boxes were on the floor following the 6.6 quake.
"We've had engineers through since Friday's quake, and we are very happy with the way the building has come through."
Mr Mitchell plans to relocate his sportswear business to the former Lynfords store in Scott St within a month.
Demolition of his two-storey building was expected to begin from mid-September, followed by construction of a new retail shop in its place, Mr Mitchell said.
"It means my five-year plan has been condensed down to one month, but the demolition next door has left a vacant site, and it will be so much easier to manoeuvre the heavy machinery necessary to bring the building down," he said.
"It's daunting. There's a lot to organise in a very short space of time."
The Wynen St building was one of 22 potentially quake-prone buildings in Blenheim and Picton identified by the Marlborough District Council in 2011.
Building owners were given five to 10 years from the year they received notice to strengthen or demolish buildings.
The deadline for action on Mr Mitchell's building was mid-2018.
He has been liaising with the owners of the Podium building which was demolished this month and is to be replaced with a new single-storey retail store.
Project manager Geoff Dentice said the developers were co-operating with Mr Mitchell, and demolition work on his building would not hinder their progress.
Mr Mitchell's family has a long history of business in Blenheim.
His grandfather owned Mitchell Motors Ltd, which was located at the Marlborough Floor Pride Civic Theatre site, and his father opened Roy Mitchell Cycle and Sports Centre in the Wynen St building in 1968.
Mr Mitchell was thrilled the family tradition would be continuing, with one of his sons, Michael Mitchell, joining the business later this year.
His deep Marlborough roots and commitment to the region's sporting community had been the decisive factor behind his decision.
"I'm going to be so poor for the next 20 years," he said.
"One option was to walk away; most people would - earthquake strengthening is going to be tough for small business owners.
"Bricks and mortar can come and go, but the absolutely critical thing is the safety of customers and staff."
Meanwhile, several buildings in Blenheim have yet to reopen after last Friday's earthquake.
The Marlborough District Council said the No 1 Shoe store was closed due to ceiling tiles dislodging inside. It was not a structural issue.
The rest of that building - housing the Civic Theatre, State Insurance, and Noel Leemings - had no evident damage, but was being assessed by structural engineers, as were other Council buildings.
Smiths City next to Stadium 2000 was still closed yesterday, but its shared wall had since been been assessed and deemed safe.
- The Marlborough Express