Owner signs up support
The owner of Nelson's Zumo Coffee House is petitioning to buy its earthquake-prone building and save it from possible demolition.
A public petition was started at the weekend in the Rutherford St coffee house by owner Allan Chambers, a former investor who took over Zumo Retail when it ran into financial trouble.
Mr Chambers told the Nelson Mail he offered to buy the property, which he leases from Nelson City Council.
Owning the single-storey building would give Zumo Coffee House some security, which was at risk because the building lease expired next June.
As of this morning the petition had 110 signatures.
"Zumo has no assurance to remain on the property beyond June 30, 2013," the in-store petition says.
"Zumo is seeking to purchase the property due to detailed earthquake inspection delays and over 15 years of government indecision regarding its ultimate use."
The Rutherford St building is among the list of council buildings assessed as being potentially earthquake-damage prone with an initial rating of below 33 per cent of the New Building Standard. It has been assessed at 14 per cent of the new standard.
Nelson City Council confirmed it received a formal offer to buy the building last week. Council executive manager of network services Alec Louverdis said there were no details about price or other conditions.
"Any decision to sell or not (or to purchase or not) any property will be made by the full council following a staff report to them in this matter."
Future council plans could see a road running through where the building sits if Bridge St is extended through to Vanguard St under an option set out in the Heart of Nelson Strategy, in 2009.
A formal decision had not yet been made on whether to proceed with that plan.
Mr Chambers said the building was in a great location. The purchase was also important for expansion plans, which were already under way.
He planned for the Nelson store to be Zumo Coffee's headquarters while he opened other stores, starting with San Francisco where he used to live.
"It's a strong brand and the opportunity is there to take it international."
He had applied for the Zumo patent in Australia and the United States.
"My focus at the moment is Nelson. This would be the flagship store . . . the San Francisco move offers a large, affluent population which would support a good coffee product such as Zumo.
"It's been a long-term plan of mine going back since July this year, even last November with the application for the trademark in Australia," Mr Chambers said.
The lease was about $6000 a year plus rates. He thought the building's value would be about $1.3 million and he was prepared to pay a fair market value for it, based on an independent valuation.
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