Crumbling walls and hidden asbestos have blown out Wollongong City Council’s budget for the refurbishment of Thirroul Beach pavilion.
Now in its final stages, the overhaul of the building cost about $2.2 million – $600,000 more than the tender councillors signed off last August.
Walking through the empty building on Monday, the council’s infrastructure and works director Mike Hyde said it would be handed over to new tenants – the company which operates Bulli Beach Cafe – by next week.
“Given what we discovered – the asbestos and the deterioration of the fabric of the building, where huge pieces of the fabric were deteriorated – this is a good outcome,” he said.
“A lot of asbestos was found in the flooring and in other places in the roof, so that was a challenge, and the concrete had concrete cancer through it in a whole lot of different places too.”
These extra findings, which were only discovered once the project had started, meant contractors needed to completely rebuild some of the walls and complete major structural rectification works.
“We were also constrained by the heritage considerations, and the renovation has taken that into account,” Mr Hyde said.
Mr Hyde said the council had built the budget blowout into its contingency plan, but would still need to find “extra dollars” for the pavilion project by pushing back other infrastructure works.
“We had a significant contingency on this project because we have come to expect that, in this ocean marine environment, you will always have things you didn’t expect to find.
“We’ve got 500 projects we’re running at the moment, and what happens is, if things cost more then other stuff gets pushed out and if they cost less, we bring them back in.”
Before the renovation, the pavilion had remained largely unchanged since it opened in 1940. Built in a pared-back “inter-war” architectural style, it has been restored to its former glory with colours and finishes to match the original homestead.
The council works included a new drainage system and water tanks, re-configuring the internal walls, glass balustrades to allow for beach front dining and renovating the toilets and change rooms.
A new entrance from Thirroul Beach reserve has also been created, and the building’s accessibility meets modern standards.