The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has ordered the deconstruction and demolition of the Christchurch City Council-owned St Albans Community Centre (the former St Albans Library).
Community Services General Manager Michael Aitken says the building was damaged in the 4 September earthquake and has been closed since then. It sustained further significant damage to its brick structure in the 22 February and 13 June earthquakes. It now needs to be deconstructed and demolished. This work is expected to begin on Wednesday 20 July.
“Following the 4 September and 22 February earthquakes the Council was hopeful that the façade could be saved. Sadly, the 13 June earthquakes have changed the situation and the façade is now irreparably damaged and will need to be deconstructed and demolished along with the rest of the building.
“We have had two independent engineers’ reports on the building. Both have recommended that the brick structure of the building has been so seriously damaged, that it needs to be demolished.”
Mr Aitken says no decision on the future of the site has been made at this stage.
Deputy Mayor Ngaire Button says the building is a landmark in the St Albans community, and has been highly valued in the past as a library and more recently as a community centre.
“As hard as it is, we must brace ourselves for its loss. As a community centre this building provided an important meeting place for local residents who are highly active in their community. Over the years it hosted community events, projects, walking groups and social events, to name just a few.
“Despite losing their ‘home’ I am sure the community spirit will continue to flourish,” she says.
The deconstruction and demolition of the St Albans community Centre is expected to take several days to complete.
Although the building is not listed in the Christchurch City Plan, the Council has identified a number of heritage elements in the building and will attempt to retrieve as many of these as possible at the time of deconstruction.
Built in 1921 this landmark building has a strong historical link to the social and cultural life of the St Albans suburb through its long history of community use; in the past as a library and more recently as a community centre.
The building is an early example of community involvement in the establishment of a number of small libraries in Christchurch suburbs from 1867 through to the 1930s.