What was supposed to be a straight forward renovation job on a city-owned heritage property is turning into a money pit.

The original cost of the century-old Public Gardens cottage has increased eleven times.

Once home to the garden’s superintendent, the two-storey brick building is about to undergo a $1.6-million renovation.

A routine brickwork repointing job revealed dangerous wood rot throughout the building and mould.

“It’s not safe right now with the rotten wood. There’s been some temporary pinning put on it to keep it safe. But it absolutely needs to be fixed,” said Halifax’s manager of facility development, Richard MacLellan.

City council is expected to approve the first big contract on Tuesday, an $880,000 award to Masontech to completely remove and rebuild three sides of brick work.

The building, nestled on the corner of Bell Road and Sackville Street, also needs structural repairs and asbestos removal.

MacLellan said it’s worth saving.

“Immediately upon looking at the numbers and the value of replacing the building the logical answer would be to tear it down. However we have very strong heritage policies in HRM and this is a very important building,” he said.

The exterior work — including sandstone, granite and copper detailing —  is expected to take four months.