Quake-proofing proves fatal blow for shops
A retailer, whose stores in Nelson and Blenheim have closed suddenly, blames the demise of his business on earthquake-strengthening requirements.
Greg Hall shut his Stirling Sports shop in Trafalgar St and his Blenheim store yesterday.
The recession was not to blame, but the $350,000 cost of bringing his Blenheim building up to the required earthquake standards had been a big factor, he said.
He believed other businesses around the country would also be affected if councils insisted on further quake proofing of buildings.
The cost of earthquake strengthening was a real issue for businesses, said Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dot Kettle.
"It's definitely a concern for businesses in the Nelson CBD, and who will pick up the cost.
"Property owners will have to pay and there's no hesitation in understanding the reasons for it, but there are issues around the time requirements and how they will recoup the costs.
"It's not going to generate extra income and the costs have to be passed on," Ms Kettle said.
Businesses were waiting for direction from the Government on what degree of strengthening was needed and over what time, and they did not like the uncertainty over what was required.
Mr Hall said he received notice from the Marlborough District Council. "The council said do the work by December 2014 or pull the building down."
He did the work, even though he believed the building was safe, he said. "You have more chance of being hit by a bus crossing the road."
He decided to be proactive and get the work done, thinking it would be an advantage to have a building up to the required standard when others would not be ready, he said.
His shop moved out while the work was being done and the SBS Bank became the new tenant, and his shop downsized.
Other businesses would face similar dilemmas in deciding what to do, Mr Hall said. The $350,000 cost had bitten into his business.
"That's a lot of money. That's all the equity that vanished."
Councils needed to consider what impact the quake standard requirements would have.
Marlborough Mayor Alastair Sowman said today that while he felt for Mr Hall, he had several years notice that the building work was required.
Mr Hall said the shop closures meant the loss of one full-time and six part-time jobs.
He and a part-time employee had worked in the Nelson shop.
He did not blame the recession, saying while trading had been tough, it had been getting better.
"It's business. At the end of the day, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't."
Mr Hall said shoppers needed to support their local businesses.
He bought the Stirling Sports Nelson business three years ago, and last year the Trafalgar St store was divided, with the other half taken up by Hogeys Surf.
A sign at the closed Stirling Sports shop today said "New owners soon", but Mr Hall would not elaborate.
Stirling Sports in Richmond is a separately owned business.
Owner Dave Heyward said his store was still open. Trading had been inconsistent, with quiet times and rushes, but the store had a good range of stock and he was hoping for plenty of customers in the lead-up to Christmas.
- The Nelson Mail
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