Mary Poppins building refurb on hold as company goes bust
THE refurbishment of Maryborough's iconic Mary Poppins building has been left in limbo after the company contracted for the work entered voluntary administration.
Sydney-based PKF Chartered Accountants was appointed as administrator to the Brisbane-based Sommer and Staff Constructions last Friday.
If follows the 44-year-old firm having its building licence suspended by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission that same week.
The Fraser Coast Regional Council contracted Sommer and Staff for refurbishments of the building that was the birthplace of Mary Poppins author PL Travers.
The building is set to be transformed into a PL Travers Story Bank Museum, dedicated to encouraging creative reading and writing in young people.
But the latest development means the planned refurbishment will be delayed.
Council CEO Ken Diehm said it was unclear how long the delay would be as they needed to "resolve contractual issues that result from the voluntary administration".
At the time, Sommer and Staff were midway through mechanical and electrical upgrades at the Maryborough Hospital.
Because of the original licence suspension, the $4 million project now faces delays of up to six weeks.
It is believed the company owes subcontractors up to $5 million.
The news comes as a surprise to the company's regional project manager Paul O'Rourke, who told the Chronicle he first heard about the administration process on the news. He said it was "frustrating" to be kept in the dark.
"I wasn't even contacted by the company about what is happening," Mr O'Rourke said.
"I was never kept in the loop with payments, it was only about liaising with contractors and getting the jobs."
In a statement, Sommer and Staff Construction's general manager Dan Burley said the company was "working urgently and constructively with the administrator to try to find a way to restructure the business for it to survive." He said voluntary administration was "a step we did not want to take".
"But given the circumstances that the business has encountered with recent projects, it is the prudent one," Mr Burley said.
"There is still a lot of work ahead of us and we will be doing everything possible working with the administrator to find a way through for the business."