Wellington Town Hall strengthening budget blows out to $112 million

The cost of strengthening and upgrading Wellington’s town hall has blown out from a recent estimate of $90m to $112.4m.

Council Chief Executive Kevin Lavery says there are particular challenges with this project.

“It’s built on re-claimed land, it’s 60 metres down to bedrock, and much of the engineering will be done below the water table”, he said.

The floor has already been lifted
The floor has already been lifted Photo credit: Wellington Council - Supplied

It will become the permanent home of the NZSO and the Victoria University School of Music, with state-of-the-art recording facilities.

The 114-year-old Grade 1 listed building was closed in 2013 after it was deemed earthquake-prone.

The work will include re-piling and installing base isolators.

The estimate of the cost of the work began at $46m, before being revised to $60m.  Council approved $90m in 2017.

“We know the final price will be higher than the tender price”, Mr Lavery said.

There is also a contingency fund, but he wouldn’t disclose how much money is in that.

Mr Lavery said it’s to cover things like new ground conditions and any necessary changes to the design.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says the construction industry is growing more expensive.

“We are in a very tight construction market, Fletcher Building is no longer competing and prices are being driven up," he said on Tuesday.

“The good news is our engineers believe they can increase its life by 100 years and we can keep an iconic building in our city."

The successful contractor is Naylor Love.  Five construction companies tendered for the work.

Mr Lavery says the new budget is unlikely to impact next year’s annual plan.

Wellington City Councillors are expected to approve the project next week, and Mr Lester says he hopes construction will be approved.

 “Councillors will have all the information they can have in front of them. I look forward to talking with Councillor colleagues, arts stakeholders and Wellingtonians about their views."

If it’s approved, work will begin in March, with the project expected to take four years.