'Incredible interest' in free historic building

'Incredible interest' in free historic building

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2013
Historic Shands Emporium on Hereford St
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
ALL ALONE: Historic Shands Emporium on Hereford St is surrounded by empty space.

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One of the oldest commercial buildings in central Christchurch is "free to a good home", its owner says.

The historic Shand's Emporium in Hereford St, built in 1860, has survived the Canterbury earthquakes and is now getting a new lease of life.

The building's owner, Canterbury rich-lister and developer Antony Gough, is giving it away on the proviso that it will be restored on a central-city site.

There had been "incredible interest" in the building, he said, with at least five "really good prospective owners looking at it".

He hoped to decide who the building would go to by the end of next week.

"I think it will actually be a very tough job to pick someone."

Gough would pay for the building to be stabilised and weather-proofed so it could be relocated. He would also pay relocation costs which could be about $20,000, he said.

He said one person wanted to turn the building into a bar.

"I think it would make a wonderful bar . . .but there's been interest from community-type groups too."

Gough said he would rather give the building away than sell it because "if someone pays then you don't get to have a lot of control".

"But I'm passionate about heritage in this city and I want to see it go to the right home and know that it isn't going to go to waste."

Earlier this year Gough rejected a $6000 funding offer from the New Zealand Historic Places Trust to help weatherproof the building because he felt there were too many conditions attached.

The trust's listing describes it as "a rare example of early commercial timber architecture in Christchurch".

Shand's Emporium has the most significant heritage listing possible on the trust's register. It is one of the oldest commercial buildings in the city centre and one of few surviving buildings from early colonial days. It was originally an office building but refurbished in 1977 for several small shops. The building was saved from demolition in the early 1980s after a petition against plans to build a telephone exchange on the site.

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