20 Aug 2015

Nelson's Trathen's building to be pulled down

2:13 pm on 20 August 2015

A landmark building in the centre of Nelson city is coming down.

Trathen's building in Trafalgar Street, central Nelson, as it is now.

Trathen's building in Trafalgar Street, central Nelson, as it is now. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The Trathen's building, which has been a focal point of Trafalgar Street since it was built in 1920, has a high earthquake risk.

Despite costly efforts to strengthen so it would meet required codes, the latest standards place it at only 6 percent of thresholds and it can no longer be insured.

Retaining the facade of the existing building would require structures to be driven 17m below ground and cost more than $1 million, without fully mitigating the risk of causing injury or death in an earthquake.

"The reality is that building simply can't remain in its current form," Trathen Properties chief executive Michelle Trathen said.

Plans for the Trathen's building in Trafalgar Street, central Nelson.

Plans for the Trathen's building in Trafalgar Street, central Nelson. Photo: Supplied

The family plans to construct a new building in its place and has looked to its past to come up with plans for a modern and innovative new building which they hope will breathe new life into the city's main street.

The proposed two storey building is expected to cost around $2.4 million to build and will feature two separate upper-level restaurant cafes with outdoor dining areas which extend out over the footpath below. It also has solar panels that double as shade to the upstairs areas while powering the building's lift and escalator.

The aim is to have as many materials as possible salvaged from the original building and used in the new one, to create a "visual connection to the history of the site".

"We are very proud of our Nelson heritage and we have poured heart and soul into trying to come up with the best solution, not only for us but for the future of our home town," Ms Trathen said.

The Trathens said despite the downturn in retail which has left gaps in many towns and cities, inner cities were being revitalised in new ways, which is why they planned to retain a presence on the site.

"There is a cultural trend happening throughout the world - people are coming into the city not just to shop but to meet and eat and be entertained," Ms Trathen said.