Historic Invercargill house back on council agenda

Anderson House, in Invercargill, needs urgent watertightness and strengthening work. PHOTO:...
Anderson House, in Invercargill, needs urgent watertightness and strengthening work. PHOTO: ALLIED PRESS FILES
It has been closed for six years, but the historic Anderson House will soon be back on the Invercargill City Council’s agenda.

Anderson House Trust chairman Craig Macalister welcomed the council’s move, but preferred to maintain a cautious approach as the progress was still uncertain.

Councillors will discuss a report prepared by council parks and recreation manager Michelle Frey and property manager Paul Horner at today’s infrastructure and services meeting.

It has been recommended councillors approve up to $400,000 for ‘‘reasonably urgent’’ remedial maintenance work to keep the house watertight and to safeguard the heritage building.

A further $714,000 would be needed to strengthen the building to 67% of the national building standard as it has beenrated at a seismic strength of less than 10% of the standard, and to address fire protection and access issues.

‘‘In total, to both maintain the house and to enable the public to enter the house requires a total spend of approximately $1.14 million,’’ the report states.

It also suggests staff prepare a 20-year maintenance plan to ensure clarity of future budget requirements as the council was working with the Anderson House Trust on activities and uses for the property.

The report said ‘‘for various reasons’’, cafe and restaurant projects has been proposed but not progressed.

In order to fully understand Anderson House’s future and commercial viability, the council engaged hospitality expert Russell Kenny to provide independent advice.

‘‘The work outlined in this report represents a way forward for Anderson House to be safe and functional —but in a staged manner to ensure greatest chance of success and least risk,’’the report states.

Mr Macalister said members of the trust would present their views about the issue at the meeting.

It has shown an interest in running Anderson House once it has its strengthening issues sorted.

‘‘We will be urging the council to make some decision and get moving.

‘‘We want to play our role.

‘‘There is a good opportunity there for council just to have the governance oversight for the trust to look more to day-to-day-type business.’’

The house was used as a the public art gallery until 2014 when the council closed it to the public because of earthquake concerns. Mr Macalister just wants some progress to be made. ‘‘We hope council is a bit closer to making a decision. 

‘‘Everyone in Southland would welcome that.’’ 

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