Owner queries closure decision
The decision to close the Nelson building that is home to Prego Mediterranean Foods is unnecessary because the building is safe, says Prego's owner.
Prego and the Riverside Pool frontage are still operating as usual, despite the Nelson City Council deciding on Friday that they should close "as a matter of urgency".
Prego owner Peter McNairney was informed on Friday that the council planned to close the Halifax St building, but said he did not agree with the decision.
In an email sent to its customers on Saturday, Prego said the implications for the business were "far from clear".
"However, it is certain that the financial consequences for us will be substantial.
"The building is not unsafe and there is no technical reason for the building to be closed.
"We have no say in the decision, nor do we agree with it."
Mr McNairney said today that if the building was unsafe, it would have been closed when the rating was first given.
"We don't necessarily accept that decision. [The council] gave us a letter 12 months ago explaining the earthquake rating – if [the building] was dangerous, it would have been closed."
The council announced on Friday that all council-owned buildings considered earthquake-prone were to be closed.
Prego and the Riverside Pool frontage are both categorised as E, less than 20 per cent of the required 33 per cent to meet the new building standard.
However, despite the matter being classed as urgent, both businesses are still operating. Council spokesman Alec Louverdis said this was because of the practicalities of closing the buildings.
Going in on Friday and putting a padlock on the doors would not have been fair to the tenants, he said.
"We're appreciative of the view that it's [Prego's] livelihood and to close the doors immediately would not have been fair on them."
A meeting between the council and the business would be held some time this week.
"There are a whole lot of practicalities of closing the building. We need to work through these issues."
Mr McNairney said Prego had a lease until 2018, after which time he had been told the building would be demolished.
The building was in the same situation as many other privately owned buildings in Nelson, he said.
"We don't think there's any legal or technical reason to close the building."
It was a voluntary move by the council, he said.
Mr McNairney said he was not concerned for staff or patron safety, and he did not believe others were concerned either.
There had been discussions with staff and customers previously, and none had expressed concern.
"The overwhelming feedback was that people see this as a bureaucratic exercise. People don't feel unsafe coming here."
Mr Louverdis said the Halifax St building and the pool frontage would be closed "in the near future", but the council had to work through a lot of things.
The pool remains open, because only the entrance to the building is earthquake-prone.
Since Friday, Mr Louverdis said he had spoken with the contractors of Riverside Pool and work had progressed on an alternative entrance. "We realise there are a lot of things to be done to move the entrance. It's a lot of work to go on behind the scenes."
He was hopeful that the alternative entrance could be up and running "quite soon".
A request for comment from Riverside Pool was directed to the council.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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