Founders Theatre a quake risk - report

Founders Theatre (Hamilton City Council / supplied)
Founders Theatre (Hamilton City Council / supplied)

Hamilton's iconic Founders Theatre, closed in February over health and safety concerns, also needs significant seismic strengthening.

An assessment carried out by Dunning Thornton has found "critical areas of weakness" in the 54-year-old theatre's auditorium roof and stage house.

"When we began investigations into refurbishing the theatre, the seismic strength of the building became a concern for us," says Sean Murray, executive director of the Hamilton City Council's events division H3.

"Dunning Thornton confirmed our earlier advice the theatre needed a major seismic strengthening upgrade, and they have validated the work and cost we would need to do if council opts to refurbish the theatre - estimated to be $20 million."

While the Government deems a building "earthquake-prone" if it falls 33 percent below the current building standards, Dunning Thornton estimates Founder's Theatre is only between 15 and 25 percent below.

But the seismic issues, combined with other health and safety concerns, mean the council won't be reopening it anytime soon. It is currently consulting on three options for the city, which are:

There are no comparable theatres in Hamilton, and the council says if it's lost, the city may miss out on touring shows and suffer economically.

The consultation period ended on June 30.