D-day approaching for Christchurch Town Hall

The quake-damaged Christchurch Town Hall needs extensive repairs.

The quake-damaged Christchurch Town Hall needs extensive repairs.

The repair bill to fix Christchurch's broken Town Hall is set to be revealed to city councillors deciding its fate.

The council has $127.5 million on its books for repairing the quake-damaged building in Kilmore St but it committed those funds before the extent of its financial difficulties was known and before any detailed analysis on the economic viability of the repairs.

The Warren and Mahoney-designed Town Hall, which was recently named in British newspaper, The Guardian, as one of the top 10 concert halls in the world, was insured for $69.1m but early estimates suggest repairs will cost almost twice that.

The plan is to restore the auditorium, entrance foyer, James Hay Theatre and the Limes Room and to rebuild Boaters and the Cambridge Room. The entire building will be strengthened to 100 per cent of the New Building Standard and significantly refurbished.

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee believes it is difficult to justify spending so much money on the Town Hall, particularly given the precarious state of the council's finances, and wants the council to walk away from the building.

Council staff have spent months working on a business case for repairing the Town Hall and are due to present their findings to councillors in the coming weeks. In June a second report detailing the tenders received for the Town Hall restoration project will be considered by the council. That report will reveal whether the $127.5m will be sufficient to do all the work required or if plans need to be re-considered.

Cr Ali Jones said the two reports would be crucial to the council's decision-making.

"We're waiting with interest to see what those reports say."

Jones would not be drawn on whether she would support restoration if the costs were higher than forecast.

Council finance spokesman Cr Raf Manji said he favoured building something new but believed the council would back restoration.

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Cr Jamie Gough, who last term unsuccessfully pushed to have only the Town Hall auditorium repaired, said if the report showed costs had ballooned he would push for a re-think.

"If it doesn't look like it's going to fly, it would be foolhardy to push on," Gough said.

Council anchor projects unit manager Liam Nolan said council staff were evaluating the Town Hall tenders. They were pleased with the response received.

"We have applied for the resource consent and we are currently waiting for a decision from the consenting authority," Nolan said.

 - The Press


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