Over $6m to fix South library

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 06:20 08/07/2014
South Christchurch library in Beckenham
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

BELOW STANDARD: South Christchurch library in Beckenham could cost more to repair and strengthen than its original building cost.

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Repairing the quake-damaged South Christchurch library and service centre will cost more than the original build, figures obtained by The Press show.

Quantity surveying firm WT Partnership calculated it will cost about $614,000 to repair the damage to the Colombo St, Beckenham, building and almost $5.9 million to strengthen it structurally so that it meets 67 per cent of the New Building Standard (NBS).

That brings the total cost of the project to $6.5m - about $700,000 more than the building cost to build 11 years ago.

The award-winning Warren & Mahoney-designed building, which is considered the jewel in the crown of Christchurch's suburban libraries network, is insured for $6.5m but council facilities rebuild manager Darren Moses said yesterday it was unlikely insurance would cover the cost of the required strengthening work.

"The cost of strengthening typically is one that is going to have to be borne by council," said Moses.

The council was forced to close the library in 2012 after a post-quake assessment revealed it was performing at less than 34 per cent of NBS - the minimum standard required by the council for occupancy.

Contractors have done temporary repairs to the building to get it over the 34 per cent threshold and reopened, but a plan for permanently repairing the building has yet to be approved.

An evaluation by consultants Opus International shows there are cracks in the concrete floor up to 40mm wide, as well as significant cracking to one of the pre-cast concrete panels near the western end of the building. The ground floor slab by the children's areas has moved. There has been significant differential settlement throughout the building, up to 92mm in some places.

Moses said it was likely a big financial commitment from the council would be needed to get the building to an acceptable standard. The temporary repairs had bought the council some time to decide what to do, but the clock was ticking as the consent for the temporary repairs was due to expire in about 18 months.

When asked whether the council might demolish the building, Moses said he could not answer that yet.

"We haven't really given all those options any great consideration yet. Repair and strengthen, from where we are, is obviously quite appealing but there is an option for a possible rebuild."

Asked whether it was surprising a building as modern as the South Christchurch library needed significant structural strengthening, Moses said: "Maybe a little bit.

"It's a very large building though, built on a slab foundation with no deep piles adjacent to a river bank . . . so it is not totally unexpected."

Spreydon-Heathcote councillor Tim Scandrett said the South Christchurch library was held up as an example of what suburban libraries should be like and was an "absolutely essential" facility for the local community.

The building also houses a council service centre and a learning centre used by schools.

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- The Press

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