Sign of the Takahe lease sur­ren­dered

The Press - - News - TINA LAW

After al­most seven years and a $2.8 mil­lion re­pair, the his­toric Sign of Takahe is still closed to the public and will re­main that way through­out the sum­mer.

The Christchurch City Coun­cil plans to ask the public in the new year to put for­ward pro­pos­als to lease the build­ing, after the pre­vi­ous lease­hold­ers re­lin­quished the lease on Au­gust 23.

The pro­pos­als would have to be sym­pa­thetic to the her­itage values of the build­ing, a coun­cil spokes­woman said.

Christchurch busi­ness­men Mark Bou­vet and Richard Free­man op­er­ated a restau­rant, bar, wed­ding and func­tion venue from the Her­itage New Zealand-listed build­ing be­fore the 2011 earth­quakes.

The lease was not due to ex­pire un­til 2020, but the pair re­lin­quished the lease after try­ing to sell it on Trade Me.

Bou­vet con­firmed the lease had been sur­ren­dered back to the coun­cil but did not an­swer ques­tions about why he and Free­man de­cided to re­lin­quish it, or if they had to pay any penalty to the coun­cil to do so.

Coun­cil cor­po­rate ser­vices gen­eral man­ager Anne Colum­bus said the par­ties came to ‘‘an agree­ment on the sur­ren­der of the lease on mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial terms’’.

She would not an­swer ques­tions about whether any money changed hands when the lease was sur­ren­dered or whether the coun­cil asked Bou­vet and Free­man to give up the lease.

In May, the coun­cil said it was work­ing with the ex­ist­ing lease­hold­ers to ‘‘fa­cil­i­tate the re­op­er­at­ing of the premises’’.

The Cash­mere build­ing has been closed since it was dam­aged in the 2011 earth­quakes. The re­pairs were com­pleted in May this year.

Cash­mere ward coun­cil­lor Tim Scan­drett said he wanted more com­mu­nity in­volve­ment with the build­ing, es­pe­cially since the city did not have many his­toric build­ings left of that cal­i­bre.

‘‘I’d like to see the com­mu­nity us­ing it as a lo­cal wa­ter­ing hole.’’

He said he, like most peo­ple, would have liked the build­ing to re­open to the public much sooner than it would be.

Free­man caused con­tro­versy in 2010 when he vowed to ‘‘nail’’ cy­clists with his Hum­mer.

PHOTO: JOHN KIRKANDERSON/STUFF

The his­toric Sign of the Takahe is fully re­paired but closed to the public.

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