Quake risk could close gallery

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014

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One of Invercargill's most treasured buildings may have to be closed because of earthquake risk.

The report into the Andersons Park Art Gallery, owned by the city council since 1951, shows the category one historic building only meets 12 per cent of the building code.

The future of the building will now have to be decided at the council meeting next week and could be closed within a week because of concerns.

Invercargill City Council chief executive Richard King said while he "didn't think it would make the cut" of the required 34 per cent compliance with the building code, he was surprised at how low it was.

Councillors were advised about the state of the building on Wednesday, along with council staff and the Invercargill Art Gallery Society, he said.

The art gallery may have to be closed, depending on how the council decides to deal with the situation, something that could happen as early as next week, Mr King said.

The decision could affect the five employed staff at the gallery because repairs could potentially take between six and 12 months.

"One of the dangers are the chimneys, which are highly unstable in parts."

Since the building is listed as a category one historic building with the Historic Places Trust, the council might have to replicate parts of the building.

The building is one of several council buildings that have been deemed earthquake prone.

"You've got to prioritise what is worth keeping and what is not," Mr King said.

Invercargill City Council parks manager Robin Pagan said the building's walls and chimneys failed the building code.

But the report was a non-intrusive assessment, which meant the council would now have to consider intrusive work to assess the bracing of the building.

Invercargill Art Gallery Society president Mick Hesslin said he had been told about the report but had not yet seen it.

He expected the society and council would work closely next week.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said the news was "shattering".

"What are we going to do?"

He expected the situation to be "a hot topic" at the strategic meeting tomorrow.

The building was an important part of Invercargill's history, especially since it was gifted to the council by the Anderson family in 1951, he said.

 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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