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.