Auckland councillors approved a budget yesterday to fix the cladding on the headquarters building it bought in 2012, but didn’t disclose the anticipated cost of the work.
The NZ Herald has cited a $31 million cost, blowing out from $4.7 million of repairs brought forward.
However, council corporate finance & property general manager Kevin Ramsay said yesterday repair proposals would be considered by the council’s tenders & procurement committee on 26 April: “This budget will now be subject to a procurement process so the amount will remain confidential until all contracts have been awarded.”
Granite slabs on the façade, all the way up to the 29th floor, will be replaced by lightweight composite panels. Mr Ramsay said about 50 products had been investigated and the final choice hadn’t been made: “It looks at this stage a material made in France but manufactured in New Zealand.”
There was plenty of grandstanding at yesterday’s meeting of the council’s finance & performance committee as numerous councillors said they hadn’t voted in 2011 to buy the new headquarters building at 135 Albert St, although none said what option they preferred to replace the civic administration building beside Aotea Square, which was contaminated by asbestos and in dire need of an upgrade for any further use.
The finance committee meeting was partly in public yesterday, but went behind closed doors for debate on legal & project-specific matters.
Like the owners of the many leaky apartment buildings around Auckland, councillors have found themselves lumbered with a purchase which requires fixing, and there’s no way out.
The former ASB Bank Centre cost the council $104 million to buy from Brookfield Multiplex. It then spent $25 million on a fitout & $28 million on other works, and budgeted $4.7 million for some repairs in its long-term plan.
Against those & future cladding repair costs, Cllr Bill Cashmore said the council had received an unsolicited offer last year to buy the building for $250 million. With some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations, Cllr Cashmore reckoned the council would be $93 million ahead in value after the cladding repairs & increased value from the finished clad.
Part of the councillor inquiry yesterday revolved around what they were told before the decision was made to buy the building, especially detail in due diligence reports. Although the $4.7 million was set aside, and the purchase price reduced, as a result of due diligence, councillors said they weren’t aware of detail in Mott MacDonald’s due diligence report saying silicon sealant between every piece of granite needed replacing.
Mr Ramsay said the granite itself wasn’t a problem, the sealant needed to be replaced and fixings were being corroded by water ingress behind the panels. However, he said, “This is not a case of water getting inside the building and affecting the structural integrity of the building.”
A hanging scaffold & working platform will be used at the top of the building for replacement work, and the granite cladding below podium level will be refixed to the building.
Hobsonville Pt & Awhitu pa decisions
The council finance committee also approved, without debate, the sale of 20ha at Hobsonville Point for housing. The site was intended for several years for a marine industry precinct and then, last year, for a screen industry precinct.
And the committee approved the transfer to Ngati te Ata of a 17.7ha pa site on the Awhitu Peninsula, 22 years after the event which brought about the transfer occurred.
26 February 2016: Council approves initial budget advance for HQ cladding repairs
22 February 2016: Council HQ cladding fix turns into a major
11 April 2016: 22 years on, Awhitu pa site to be transferred
11 April 2016: Sale of marine precinct-that-wasn’t up for approval
Image above: The council headquarters at 135 Albert St. The red lines are the granite panels to be replaced.
Attribution: Council committee meeting & releases.