by Chris Tobin
The owner of the Grosvenor Hotel is committed to earthquake strengthening the historic hotel and hopes other Timaru owners will do the same for their heritage buildings.
Ping Lim has been given a $29,100 grant to seek professional advice on strengthening his hotel in Cains Tce.
The Timaru District Council’s next round of owners’ workshops relating to priority buildings will be held in Timaru at the council chambers on Thursday, June 13, in Temuka at the Alpine Energy Stadium lounge on Tuesday, June 18, and in Geraldine on Thursday, June 20 in the domain pavilion.
“There’s a lot of old buildings in Timaru and the owners haven’t moved.
“Some have put it in the too-hard basket, but it is not daunting at all.
“I’d encourage other owners to do it.
“We have a tendency to fear the unknown and we become victims of a vicious cycle.”
Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Grant Robertson announced the grant last week as part of the Heritage Equip earthquake strengthening programme.
A total of $958,962 was given to recipients in regional centres as well as main cities.
“Some have put it in the too-hard basket, but it is not daunting at all.”
Of this amount, $842,472 was going directly to earthquake upgrade works.
Mr Lim said he had been proactive working with the Timaru District Council and Heritage Equip and had already spent money before government assistance became available.
“We put our hands up before the word ‘go’ and we are a year ahead.
“Ultimately we’re creating a safer environment for guests and staff, and it’s also heritage protection as well.’
“It’s good [the grant] and it helps, but we have a long way to go.”
He said the Grosvenor, together with the Hydro Hotel, which has been demolished, were the largest historic hotels in Timaru.
Queen Elizabeth stayed at the Grosvenor twice during royal visits to New Zealand.
As to the final cost of the upgrade work, Mr Lim said he could be looking at millions of dollars.
“We can’t be presumptuous.
“The engineers are still doing design work and there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the building.
“A century ago the record-keeping was not very good.”
“I went to the planning section of the Timaru District Council to get the records on the Grosvenor and we only got one and a-half folders on a building which dates back to 1875. There were no detailed drawings.”
In parts of the hotel, he said engineers would have to drill to find out what was inside.
“We could be pleasantly surprised or unpleasantly surprised.
“We’re committed to getting it seismically strengthened, although there are a lot of new rules being set up and it will get dearer.”
Mr Lim said he did not have the luxury of closing the hotel while work was done.
“We will just have to phase the strengthening process.”
Earlier this year, Mr Robertson said Heritage Equip grants would provide up to 50% of costs of up to a maximum of $50,000 to do investigative reports, detailed seismic assessments, structural engineering plans or other work.
Only privately owned buildings are eligible for funding, not charitably owned buildings, churches, council assets, farm buildings, some monuments and most residential buildings.
Timaru district has 73 buildings on the Heritage NZ list in Timaru, Temuka, Geraldine and Pleasant Point and 130 on the heritage schedule in the district plan.