Civic building to cost more

Costs for Ashburton's new library and civic centre are expected to over run.
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Ashburton’s new library and civic centre (Te Pa taka o ka Tuhituhi and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka) is expected to over run its current budget.

It was expected to over run by 10 per cent – as announced last week by council – but now council has been informed a sub-contractor of building contractor Naylor Love has been put into liquidation.

The sub-contractor, Benmax, were due to supply and install the building’s air conditioning and heating system.

Ashburton District Council chief executive Hamish Riach said council was informed of the liquidation late last Thursday.  

“We are working with a number of parties to better understand the situation and assess potential impacts,” he said.

“Naylor Love holds the contract for the construction and had sub-contracted Benmax to provide, install and commission the building’s air conditioning and heating system.”

Mr Riach said it was too early to tell what disruption it would cause.

“Council’s Project Control Group (PCG) will discuss this issue next week once we have greater clarity around what the sub-contractor’s liquidation might mean for the overall build.”

Construction of the $56.75 million project started in early 2021 but the budget has been impacted by significant building material constraints, price increases and a labour shortage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to the liquidation notification, Ashburton Council District mayor Neil Brown said council had been closely monitoring costs and it was now evident the budget would be overrun by about 10 per cent.

“We’re very disappointed that the cost has risen, but anyone undertaking a build in this current climate has experienced similar difficulties. ‘‘We’ve been lucky to some extent that the project qualified for a $20m Shovel Ready Project grant from government.

‘‘The fund was designed to stimulate the covid-impacted economy, and it’s meant that ratepayers will be somewhat sheltered from the cost increase.”

Following consultation with the community in 2019, council was encouraged to choose a $51.6m building for the future, aimed at serving the community’s needs for 50 years or more.

A $5m contingency was added in 2021 as covid began to bite.

Mr Brown said in 2019 ratepayers had been prepared to pay $51.6m, but government’s covid grant funding meant they would still pay less than that despite the expected final cost.

“That grant funding was made in 2020 when there were so many uncertainties around the economy, and council remains extremely grateful that this funding is reducing the ultimate cost to the community.’’

Construction of the building on Baring Square East continues, with the installation of glazed windows and roof cladding. It is expected to be open for the community by the end of the year.

The building will incorporate council’s customer services staff on the ground floor, council chambers on the first floor and most council staff in an open plan environment on the second floor.

The new library will span over the ground and first floor and have much more room for its books and expanding range of activities.

A new emergency operations centre has also been built and the main building has absorbed historic Pioneer Hall, which was a heritage listed building with strong social ties to the community.

The new building should be finished at the same time as the renovation of Baring Square East.