Big project .. The Grosvenor owner Ping Lim checks out progress on the top floor of the historic hotel. PHOTOS: CLAIRE ALLISON

by Claire Allison

New life is being breathed in to the top floor of Timaru’s historic Grosvenor Hotel.

Work on the $5million five-year project is well under way, upgrading and strengthening the Category 2 heritage building to bring it to a minimum of 34% of the new building standard for earthquake safety.

Since September, workers have been gutting the top floor, levelling floors, tying in exterior walls to floors, and installing a sprinkler system.

Owner Ping Lim said much of the work has been undoing previous alterations returning ceilings lowered in the 1970s to their original height, uncovering features like windows and fireplaces and replacing concrete that had been used as soundproofing with fibreglass insulation.

“A lot of things were done fast and cheap, so we’re turning the clock back.”

Discoveries .. As rooms have been gutted, alterations and additions over the years have been discovered, including the blocking off of parts of windows.

Mr Lim said the first stage of the restoration should be completed this year.

“Then we will take a breather, and then move on to the next phase, the Beswick St side.”

The entire process would then have to be repeated when workers eventually moved down to the second floor of the three-storey building.

Mr Lim said the November 2019 hailstorm had seriously damaged the roof, and at 1200sqm and a possible replacement cost of $400,000, that was going to be a significant project on its own.

Vintage .. A hint of the decor of past years is provided by the wallpaper in this room.

Many other central business district building owners will face similar challenges in relation to earthquake strengthening, and Mr Lim said there were plenty of examples of owners who had bitten the bullet and done the work required.

“You just have to put a lot of money into it. There’s just no way around it.

“When people buy the building, they have their eyes wide open going into the deal.”