Vital strengthening work at the SBS St James Theatre is progressing well, project manager Phil Conroy says.

Seismic strengthening work began in April so the theatre could meet the compliance requirements of the New Zealand building code.

Mr Conroy confirmed the work was going to plan and installation of a new lift was on the horizon.

‘‘Whilst we’ve been here since April we haven’t yet got into the ground.’’

Underground work was set to begin soon, he said.

At present, contractors were carving concrete out of the building.

This would create openings in areas between the lift shaft, projection room , Sushi Today and the foyer, he said.

‘‘All that is designed around removing some weight out of the building.’’

Work to underpin the existing building foundation was about to begin, he said.

‘‘We have to do it as a jigsaw puzzle.’’

Coming soon …. Progress on getting a new lift (portrayed by this card board cut out) into the St James Theatre is on track and being progressed by Project Manger Phil Conroy and Construction Manager Ian Shanks. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

A lot of work needed to be completed before the lift could be installed, he said.

Covid-19 caused supply chain issues, delaying the arrival of some materials.

‘‘Good news is though, we’ve got a lift sitting here in Gore ready to go in.’’

While work continued, they would try to keep either the cinema or the theatre open at all times.

‘‘We’re still working through a solution to how we keep the theatre going. Maybe we have to close it for a couple of weeks.’’

Construction manager Ian Shanks said installing the lift would be the simple part.

‘‘It’s all the strengthening that takes time,’’ Mr Shanks said.

He is a life member of the Gore Theatrical Society and had worked on the project for four years, lending his own time and money to help.

A gender-neutral bathroom would also be constructed, he said.

Committee members and volunteers had helped where possible.

Two weekends ago, they moved between four and five tonnes of concrete out of the building , he said.

The Gore and Districts St James Theatre Trust is still actively seeking funding for the project.