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The demolition of what remains of the old Waterfront Industry Commission building - built in 1946 and known as "the Bureau'' - is expected to begin this morning.
The building was not a listed heritage building, but had strong links to the town's maritime history, including as the branch headquarters of the Maritime Union of New Zealand and as the Port Chalmers epicentre of the 1951 waterfront dispute.
However, it was also earthquake-prone and contractors had recently removed a deteriorating asbestos roof, ahead of demolition of the rest of the structure, after Port Otago deemed the cost of refurbishing the building to be prohibitive.
Yesterday, Port Chalmers branch secretary Phil Adams said he had hoped the company might consider a compromise, preserving the old building's brick facade as a reminder, but that had been ruled out too.
Instead, some members of the public were likely to visit the site today to witness the start of demolition, which was expected to take about two weeks, he said.
"There's still a lot of ill-feeling around the town, and in our workforce, about it happening.
"They're very upset about what's happening here.''
Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders was not available for comment yesterday.