Council abandons Harrington St hub as cost prohibitive

Completion of the Harrington Street transport hub has been deserted. Image Daniel Hines/SunLive.

Tauranga City Council has decided to abandon completion of the troubled Harington Street Transport Hub carpark building and will take action to recover as much of the cost of the project as possible.

The decision has been made at a closed council meeting on Thursday.

Mayor Tenby Powell says independent expert advice indicated that the cost of addressing the structure’s seismic resistance design deficiencies would be prohibitive.

“As unpalatable as it is to abandon a project which has already cost $19 million, our expert advice makes it clear that the completion options available to us would simply be sending good money after bad.”

He says the cost of strengthening and completing the building would be significant, particularly when compared to the original $29 million budget approved by the Council in 2017.

“That would mean that even under the most favourable conditions, we would end up with an ‘asset’ which ratepayers and people paying parking fees would have to subsidise for years to come.”

Council Infrastructure general manager Nic Johansson says there would now be a pause to allow potential future uses of the Harington Street site to be evaluated.

“The existing structure cannot be used for purposes other than carparking, because of its sloping floors, but the basement and site could possibly contribute to a future development prospect.”

An artist's impression of the completed hub. Supplied image.

He says it would be some time before the net cost to the community would become clear, because that would depend on the outcomes of potential cost recovery processes and the future use of the site.

Construction began on the seven-storey transport hub in June 2018 in May 2019 council was informed of a technical construction problem and in July advised the was a potential issue relating to seismic design strength.

Work on the site was suspended in September 2019 while an engineering design review was undertaken. As a result of that review, it was confirmed that the structure design did not meet the required standard of seismic resistance; and that structure and foundation strengthening would be required.

Nic says when council made the decision to undertake the project in 2017, the council was fully entitled to rely upon the professional expertise of the building designer and the design peer reviewer and could not have foreseen the design deficiency issues which have arisen.

“The estimated costs and financial outcomes of all of the completion options indicate that there is no economically feasible way of remedying the structural design flaws of the building,” says Nic.

“Financial analysis is also very clear that the most prudent course, and the best way to limit losses for ratepayers, is to abandon completion of the building and take action to protect the interests of the community. We now have council elected member support to get on with that job.”

The intent of the 550-carpark transport hub was to support city centre development and commercial viability and address an expected reduction in parking capacity of around 600 carparks resulting from expected city centre developments.

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Posted on 09-06-2020 17:57 | By Slim Shady

You’re right but this is New Zealand. They cannot even bring to justice people who design buildings that collapse on folk in a small quake or blokes that send men into a mine full of explosive gas. It’s why NZ is considered “a great place to do business” - cutting corners and she’ll be right. If it goes South nobody is gonna do anything anyhow. Larry Baldock said, “less bureaucracy, more democracy” - says it all. Only he ignored the democracy bit. It’s that attitude and lack of proper regulation and scrutiny why NZ has so much unchallenged corruption.


Posted on 08-06-2020 18:35 | By Accountable

As we all know Council staff run the City and the Councillors only tick off the information they are given. They are not architects, engineers or builders and don’t have the qualifications to ask the relevant questions. The staff that signed off this project are receiving incomes relevant to their responsibility and just like those in the private sector must admit responsibility and not hide behind the Councillors coat tails. As I have said there are probably thousands of similar type buildings constructed world wide and yet our Council staff can’t get one small car parking building constructed to an acceptable standard on time and within budget.The builders build to plan, the Councillors employ a CEO to employ staff to be able to oversee this simple project and we still have nothing but a debt of $26,000,000.00. Those responsible should not be employed in any Council orgaisation again.

Voting strategy

Posted on 08-06-2020 17:08 | By Maryfaith

We do vote very conscientiously. The problem is the candidates, who promise to do all manner of great things for the city and ratepayers, then do an ’about face’ as soon as they are elected! The present mayor being the main culprit - and having a dominating influence on certain new council members.


Posted on 08-06-2020 14:12 | By morepork

I don’t see much sense in assigning blame and whipping cats, on any project. (I have managed many IT related projects around the world and a blame culture just demotivates everybody and makes people afraid to use their common sense...) But I think you are right that in this case, the person(s) concerned should be named (and given a chance to tell their side of it.) The MOST important thing is that lessons must be learned. This kind of nonsense must never happen again and checks and balances must be put in place to see that it doesn’t. If that doesn’t happen, then ALL of us are responsible for the failure, inasmuch as it would be total incompetence on the part of a Council that WE elected. (I notice the current senior management have distanced themselves from it and the decision to stop was taken behind closed doors...)

@Told you...I hope so too...

Posted on 06-06-2020 22:20 | By groutby

...however the thought of ’those’ responsible for this expensive ’cock up’ will never be known will it?..even though WE are paying for it....unless, anyone from the TCC has the kahunas to say....anyone?....yes that is a question....


Posted on 06-06-2020 19:13 | By Accountable

The Council staff believe they have a clear conscience in the determination of the design and the contractual arrangements for this car park building contract then why don’t they publicly name those companies/contractors they believe are responsible for this cock up? How many car parking buildings are being built in the world without a hitch every year? The Tauranga crossing built a similar building under the same rules as the Council building without a problem and on time. Please Council name names or admit your staff was/is incompetent and if it was an incompetent Council staff member tell the people who obviously employed him/her who they are to allow some future recourse against this person.


Posted on 06-06-2020 10:39 | By Told you

Anyone would think this is the first carpark ever built, why were there design faults,surely they had to do agenda,Foundations all due diligence taken which of course covers seismic consideration,obviously this criteria was missed,I sincerely hope the people responsible for this are long gone from the Council.

Thank god

Posted on 06-06-2020 07:52 | By Slim Shady

The sensible amongst us railed against their $200m museum. They cannot even build a car park. This lot just need to stick to emptying bins and cutting grass.

Fawlty Towers

Posted on 05-06-2020 17:24 | By Slim Shady

Another TCC & O’Reilly partnership. Did this designer give a Council employee a ‘deal‘ to get it through? Only asking seen as you have previous.

Right On Morepork

Posted on 05-06-2020 15:08 | By Mommatum

I couldn’t have said it better. Another exercise in voting strategically wasted. This latest fail is a disgrace, as is taking advantage of current health restrictions to make the decision in a closed session. This is our money, a needed project and it was our right to have a say. Having awarded the tender without asking candidates the crucial question re seismic loading and without a penalty clause the least Council can do is complete this project even at the extra cost. At least ratepayers would have a substantial return. Instead all we get is $19million wasted. No wonder there’s little public interest in local body elections. They’re largely pointless.

Too bad.

Posted on 05-06-2020 13:52 | By morepork

People make mistakes. It is becoming more and more apparent that many of us made mistakes on our voting papers...


Posted on 05-06-2020 12:51 | By Wundrin

Surely the blame for this fiasco lies wiith the design and build professionals rather than the council. Womby, I think you’ll find that the intention to build a parking building on this site was announced before the apartment build began. And Maryfaith, I wouldn’t be quite so sure about the integrity of all things Chinese.

Here we go again

Posted on 05-06-2020 11:59 | By surfsup

The council would have been aware of this outcome many months ago yet they still went ahead with the Wharf Street fiasco. What a complete disaster the council and mayor are.


Posted on 05-06-2020 11:57 | By dumbkof2

Oh well whats another $19 mil. Just add it to the rates bill


Posted on 05-06-2020 10:40 | By Slim Shady

New Zealand designers can’t even build a weathertight building so why are they doing fancy stuff like sloping floors?

One Scandal after another...

Posted on 05-06-2020 09:26 | By jed

Our council needs to take a good hard look at themselves. Bella Vista, this carparking building , rates rises of 12.9%, reduced to a mean spirited 7.3% because the economy is being devastated. Council is absolutely rotten, handing out non-notified resource consents that cause significant detriment to neighbourhoods ... where is the media to chase these things up?

Yet another stuff up!

Posted on 05-06-2020 09:04 | By Maryfaith

Things go from bad to worse with this incompetence!! I guess insurance is out of the question? From past stuff ups I imagine no self respecting insurance company would have a bar of this lot! So, who was this building designer with the ’professional expertise’? A mate of a mate? $19 million - it is criminal to put this onto the ratepayers!! I suggest the council employ a chinese firm to construct anything to do with engineering. It will be done in a couple of weeks at a fraction of the cost and will never fall down!!!

Karma perhaps?

Posted on 05-06-2020 09:02 | By Womby

It was a cruel decision to build a parking building blocking out the views of a nice apartment tower on one of the high parts of the central city. The council decided to do this despite the howling from apartment owners, then eventually mothballed it while they squabble amongst themselves like school kids and write off 19 million dollars of taxpayers money. Perhaps we might get a container village on the slab competing against the Kingsview or local shops. Or a homeless haven?

Anotherto the list of failures

Posted on 05-06-2020 08:51 | By The Sage

What an incredible waste of resources and money. Add it to the long list of fails by the Council, Greerton, removal of parking downtown the Mount for a skate board park. There are many more. Trouble is they expect us, the rate payer, to keep footing the bill. First a 12.6% rate increase, lowered to 7.6%, still way too much considering the current economic climate. Where is the accountability?

Who's responsible?

Posted on 05-06-2020 08:39 | By Sceptical

Is anyone going to be held responsible for this ...designer, builder, peer reviewer? Surely the Council was not relying on some DIY group, so those experts must have some insurance in place. It is not good enough that we are left with a useless huge structure, not only an eyesore but a waste of materials as well. And we are left with the same parking headaches. It would be good to have an update on what is being done to remedy the situation.

who said ok

Posted on 05-06-2020 08:34 | By hapukafin

someone signed it off to proceed.Will it end up like the CHC earthquake building that no one was charged for it.

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