Heritage buildings share $1.8m
One of the oldest buildings in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, off limits for seven years, could be operational again within 18 months.
Work has already started to extensively repair the 141-yearold former Chief Post Office building and yesterday it was one of two heritage buildings to receive a $900,000 landmark heritage grant from Christchurch City Council.
The 125-year-old Sargood Son and Ewen Building at 92 Lichfield St, which housed Mu steakhouse, a dance club, council offices, and apartments before the earthquakes, also received a $900,000 grant.
Both buildings featured on the council’s ‘‘Dirty 30’’ list of properties deemed to be holding up the central city rebuild.
Chief Post Office owner Gordon Chamberlain said he was doing his best to preserve the building for the future and the council had been supportive of repairing the building because of its importance to Christchurch.
He was reluctant to say when the building would be finished because as internal wall linings were removed new damage was exposed. ‘‘Unfortunately there is a lot of damage.’’
The grant money would help with the cost of strengthening the existing walls and repairing the exterior facade. Asbestos had to be removed from inside and the roof needed replacing.
Council heritage team leader Brendan Smyth told councillors cost estimates of the repairs varied, but it was likely to cost more than $10 million, so the council’s grant was less than 10 per cent of the total repair cost.
Councillor Deon Swiggs said the Post Office grant was quite a ‘‘monumental decision’’, especially since the building had been in limbo for quite some time.
The grant for the Sargood building, owned by a company associated with controversial property developer Dave Henderson, created debate amongst councillors who wanted to grant
$600,000, rather than $900,000. Cr Jamie Gough said giving the Sargood building the same amount of money as the Post Office did not seem consistent with the size of the project. The work was expected to cost about