Defence House owner rejects suggestion it is earmarked for demolition

Relocating workers from Defence House on Aitken St and two other buildings have cost the Defence Force almost $2.3 ...
FAIRFAX NZ

Relocating workers from Defence House on Aitken St and two other buildings have cost the Defence Force almost $2.3 million, as at January 13, 2017.

The owner of the quake-affected Defence House insists "there are no plans to demolish the building", as structural assessments continue.

The Aitken St building has been off-limits to about 1200 occupants – mainly from the Defence Force (NZDF) and Ministry of Defence – since it was damaged in November's magnitude 7.8 quake in Kaikoura.

Among the problems plaguing the building were cracked walls, broken windows and serious floor damage.

Relocating workers from Revera House is among the costs the Defence Force has had to bear since November's Kaikoura quake.
SUPPLIED

Relocating workers from Revera House is among the costs the Defence Force has had to bear since November's Kaikoura quake.

Sources say Defence House, also known as Freyberg House, was due to be declared uninhabitable. However, a spokeswoman for the building's owner, AMP Capital, rejected the claim.

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"Every effort is being made to complete the engineering assessment and for Defence to reoccupy the building as soon as possible," a statement said.

Wellington City Council ordered the owners of dozens of inner-city buildings to carry out invasive tests following the ...
SUPPLIED

Wellington City Council ordered the owners of dozens of inner-city buildings to carry out invasive tests following the November quake. Pictured: Chief resilience officer Mike Mendonca.

"Once the full report is complete, we will provide this to the appropriate authorities, including Wellington City Council. We expect this to be complete later this month."

An Official Information Act request for photographs and security camera footage from inside and around Defence House was refused by the Defence Force.

Its headquarters' chief of staff, Commodore Ross Smith, was concerned releasing video "would expose the capabilities of the NZDF security systems".

He said "some representative imagery captured immediately after the earthquake" had already been released on Twitter.

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Smith did release details about the cost of relocating staff from Defence House, as well as Thorndon Quay's Ericsson House and Revera House on Mulgrave St.

It showed $2,298,334 was been spent relocating quake-displaced workers from the three buildings, with almost $1m of the money spent on computer hardware alone.

More than $400,000 has been used to rent property, while $384,659 was spent on furniture and fittings.

The decision on whether to pull down Revera House, which was home to the Education Review Office, parts of the Defence Force and the Walking Access Commission, remained with the building's insurers.

Last week, Gunson Property Group general manager Mark Crosswell said "it's fair to say it will be unoccupied for some time, until it is repaired or pulled down".

Wellington City Council ordered the owners of more than 80 inner-city buildings to carry out invasive testing in December, making use of new powers given to it by the government.

Council chief resilience officer Mike Mendonca set a deadline of February 10 for the work to be completed.

A council spokesman was unable to say how many building owners had submitted their reports to date, but said "we are quite satisfied with how the process is going".

DEFENCE FORCE RELOCATION COSTS AS AT JANUARY 13, 2017

  • $999,583 - Computer hardware
  • $408,405 - Rental of property
  • $384,659 - Furniture and fittings
  • $282,774 - General and office expenses
  • $219,272 - Facilities maintenance
  • $3641 - Contractors and professional fees

OVERALL TOTAL: $2.298 million

 - Stuff

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