Quake concerns for Edgar Centre

The Edgar Centre, where the Southern Steel will play the Mainland Tactix on Sunday. Photo: ODT.
The Edgar Centre, where the Southern Steel will play the Mainland Tactix on Sunday. Photo: ODT
Dunedin's Edgar Centre needs a multimillion-dollar upgrade after being found to be "significantly" earthquake-prone, the Dunedin City Council says.

However, the council-owned building used by 650,000 people a year will stay open until the work can be  done, which is  expected to be  more than a year.

Council infrastructure and networks acting general manager Leanne Mash yesterday confirmed a seismic assessment had given the building a rating of just 10%-15% of new building standard (NBS).

That included the building’s entrance and reception area, built in 1996, the MoreFM Arena, added in 2003, and the playing courts in the original 1978 woolstore building, she said.

The entire complex was also subject to varying degrees of subsidence, having been built on reclaimed land, she said.

Despite that, Ms Mash told the Otago Daily Times the complex remained safe to use until the strengthening work could be carried out  in 2019-20.

An immediate closure of the complex would be "an overreaction", she said.

"I don’t believe people should be worried about going into the building.

"It’s just like hundreds of other buildings around New Zealand that now need to meet these earthquake standards.

"The risk is no greater now than it was 12 months ago."

The council would spend the next year refining the design for repairs, discussing the plan with user groups and seeking a contractor to retrofit structural steel to the building’s walls and ceiling.

The cost was expected to reach into the millions of dollars.

"It’s substantial, as you would expect for a building of that size," she said.

The building’s issues began to emerge in July 2016, when an initial investigation identified the need for "urgent" work to fix a "severe structural weakness" in the reception area.

More detailed assessments had since been carried out, including a separate geotechnical report which revealed the subsidence problem, Ms Mash said.

The subsidence had  caused problems with the MoreFM Arena’s retractable seating, and was expected to continue, but there was no immediate need for a fix, she said.

Details of the Edgar Centre’s condition came  a month after the Southland Museum and Art Gallery became the third building in Invercargill to be closed because of seismic risks, having been found to be less than 34% of NBS.

In Dunedin, considered a low-risk seismic zone, legislation in force since mid-2017 gave building owners 15 years to complete assessments and 35 years to rectify concerns. Edgar Centre general manager Blair Crawford said he was "comfortable" with the council’s decision not to close the complex, but hoped disruption for sports groups could be minimised.

"The information we’ve been given is there is no danger or anything. I’m comfortable with the information from them, that  there’s nothing to be too concerned with."

Football South chief executive Chris Wright was not aware of the seismic findings when contacted late yesterday, but said it was "obviously important that the strengthening work is done".

"The safety of sports enthusiasts and their families are the most important thing."

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Comments

I think it may also be prudent to investigate the need to retrofit all low lying structures with floatation devices ...

It's getting about 50/50 as to whether it's going to be an earthquake, or oceanic sea rises due to polar ice cap melt, that hits late next year.

Bugger ! ... I wonder whether the Council have thought to put floatation devices on their wishlist for funding of the new $800m + harbour basin project ... it would be a shame if the only bit of it you could see were the top two meters of the highest clam shell ...

Better give Dave a call on Monday to remind him, eh ?!

And the cycleways still continue,there will never be 650000 people a year using them, time to stop wasting money on a pathetic joke and using where it's required ie the Edgar Centre roads drainage sewers footpaths the list goes on,things that people actually use.

Who were the architects,engineers & builders for the 1996 & 2003 construction.