Work to earthquake strengthen Wellington Town Hall has been halted in the face of a $17 million budget blowout.
Investigations into the 110-year-old building’s foundations have resulted in the cost soaring from $43.7m to somewhere in the region of $60m – prompting one councillor to suggest abandoning it in favour of a new building.
The extent of additional foundation work required was unearthed after staff were moved out and the town hall closed in November for the three-year strengthening programme. Work was halted after just three months as the council tried to figure out what to do about the additional costs of up to $17m. The delay is likely to push back the completion date of the project.
It was a marginal call at $43 million and a wasteful one at $60 million. And I suspect the costs would keep escalating.
To put this into perspective, there are 68,901 households in Wellington, so the Council is forcing each ratepayer to pay $871 (and growing) to strengthen the building. That’s a huge amount of money.