Her­itage build­ings share $1.8m

The Press - - News - Tina Law tina.law@stuff.co.nz

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

$4.5m.

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