Bid to save Dux de Lux

Christchurch Arts Centre tenants have launched a legal challenge to their evictions.

The owner of the Dux de Lux is also offering $500,000 to repair and reopen the bar.

Every historic building in the Arts Centre was red-stickered after the February earthquake. All tenancies, bar one, have been terminated.

Seven former tenants will apply for a High Court judicial review of the evictions.

Christchurch barrister Andrew McKenzie, representing the seven tenants, said they should have been consulted before the evictions.

"Things haven't been done right. We believe they have thrown the baby out with the bath water," he said. "Some areas of the Arts Centre have been badly damaged, but other areas are not so bad.

"Every tenant received the same notice of termination. We don't think that was fair as they all had different tenancies and circumstances.

"The tenants don't want to go into battle with the Arts Centre, but they just feel that their rights have not been respected."

The seven tenants are Annies Wine Bar & Restaurant, the Art Works Gallery, Visually Maori, The Wool Studio, the New Zealand Jade & Opal Centre, the Christchurch Bone Carving Studio and Xander Imagery.

A report commissioned by former Arts Centre tenant and Dux de Lux owner Richard Sinke estimated it would cost $390,000 to fix the bar. Sinke said he was prepared to invest $500,000 in the repair work so he could reopen quickly.

Sinke, who is not involved in the legal challenge to the evictions, said it would take two months for part of the bar to be repaired and six months to repair the whole building.

He plans to send a copy of his engineering report, costings and a letter to Arts Centre trust board members.

Sinke said he did not know why Arts Centre management did not want him to return to the site.

He declined to comment on whether the eviction was related to his campaign against a proposed music centre on the Arts Centre site last year.

"I can't figure it out. Why would they want to exclude such a good tenant that has been there for such a long time?" he said. "We attracted 200,000 people a year to the Arts Centre. That is a lot of people from all over the world and all over New Zealand and Christchurch.

"I've been trying to work with the Arts Centre trust board. I don't want to get into another big battle with them. The Arts Centre is facing a difficult rebuild and I don't want to make it any worse."

Sinke plans to propose a rebate on his $265,000-a-year rent to cover the repair cost over a few years if he is allowed to return.

Arts Centre trust board chairman Deane Simmons said he could not comment on Sinke's proposals, which he had not seen.

"Those numbers are meaningless to me if I haven't seen them," he said. "It is a proposal that would need to be discussed with the management team and our engineers. If Richard wants to put a proposal together, he can present what he wants.

"The trust board owns the buildings and we will take advice from our engineers. If Richard wants to invest in his own reports, that is up to him."

The Press