Red-zone family faces lose-lose choice

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2013
Bryan, left, and Glenn Ellis
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

DILEMMA: Bryan, left, and Glenn Ellis in the Bexley Garage, which the family has owned for 47 years.

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Bryan Ellis doesn't know what to do.

He has owned the Bexley Garage for 47 years but, if he makes the wrong decision next week, this year could be the last.

On Tuesday, a Government offer to pay him out for his red-zoned land will expire.

"To be honest, I don't want to [accept it]," he said.

"But I can't really see a way out of it."

The garage, which is still trading, is one of 22 insured commercial buildings in the residential red zone.

Those property owners fell through the cracks of the initial Crown red-zone offer because their land could not be insured the way a homeowner's could through Earthquake Commission coverage.

In September, Ellis was offered a full rating valuation (RV) payout for the buildings, but only a half RV payout for the land.

His insurance company is offering a settlement for the quake-damaged garage but, with GST deductions, the Crown offer is higher.

The trouble is, to get the better deal for his building he has to wear the 50 per cent RV loss on the land, which is valued at $530,000.

"That's what makes me think we just take the whole [Crown offer] and move on," he said.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has asked Ellis to provide an engineering report on the garage's safety.

Although it has had two structural reports after major quakes, there is no guarantee it would meet building standards, potentially leaving Ellis, if he rejects the Crown offer, with an uninsurable building he might not be able to fix.

"We've been grappling with this for a year and that's why we're still here with a few days to go."

Ellis has lived on the land his entire life and grew up next door.

His mechanic son, Glenn, runs the business and wants to stay.

"We've [potentially] lost dozens of customers in the immediate area, but I've still got people coming back in from Rangiora, Kaiapoi and Hornby,'' Glenn Ellis said.

"We're a business. We're providing a service to the area. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me ... to kick us out.

"If they'd offered [100 per cent land RV], I don't think there'd be all this toing and froing. Now I feel like they're sort of ripping us [off]. It's almost caused us to want to have a bit of a fight about it."

Bryan Ellis has signed the paperwork, accepting a Crown payout for his building and land, but left it with his lawyer.

No-one, not even Ellis, will know its fate until Tuesday.

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- The Press

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