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Demolition starts on Wellington building

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/11/2016 Sean Martin

Work to demolish a Wellington high-rise building damaged in the magnitude-7.8 Kaikoura earthquake has kicked off as the council looks to reduce the cordon around it by the weekend.

The eight-storey office block at 61 Molesworth Street suffered serious structural damage in the November 14 quake.

A plan to begin pulling it down over the weekend was stalled due to high winds in the capital, but a crane with metallic jaws began "nibbling" at the structure's top floors on Monday morning.

The initial work is expected to take about two days and the deconstruction work between 10-14 days.

The council's manager of building consents and compliance, Mike Scott, said cordons around the building could be reduced by next weekend, but only if the area was safe.

"There's obviously really significant events coming. We've got the Thorndon Fair next Sunday," he said.

"We'd like to be able to open at least one lane of Molesworth Street before that ... but we only want to do it if its safe for the contractors and for the public."

He said the council also hoped to be able to tell occupants of neighbouring buildings when they could return by the end of this week.

The council and demolition company CERES are using dust suppression during demolition to help contain particles from building materials, including asbestos.

"The air quality will be constantly monitored at a number of places around the site, and if necessary, deconstruction work will be stopped immediately," Mr Scott said.

Wellington City Council took over the deconstruction of the building last week from owner Prime Property Group to speed the process up.

Prime Property Group is under investigation after it emerged a family had been living in the building, which was not consented for residential purposes.

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