Quake-prone Daily News office sold

SOLD: The old Taranaki Daily News building in Stratford sold for $100.
SOLD: The old Taranaki Daily News building in Stratford sold for $100.

One hundred dollars could buy you a pair of shoes, a tank of petrol - or a two-storey, main-street building in Stratford.

The early 1900s Taranaki Daily News building sold recently is an example of the harsh reality many building owners will have to face in the future.

In December 2012 negotiations for the building at 300 Broadway came to a close at $100, after wavering between $1 and $20,000.

This was after it was offered for $1 to Peter McDonald, director of McDonald Real Estate, but he didn't want the liability of the building.

Selling properties for low prices is becoming the only option for some owners of earthquake-prone buildings.

In Stratford, where many such buildings sit on land landbanked for Treaty of Waitangi settlements, uncertainty over the properties' future makes earthquake-strengthening even less viable.

"It just made sense to move the property on to someone who was either happy with the condition that it was in, or who understood the condition and would maybe do something about it," Daily News commercial manager Adrian Sole said.

"It was a business decision, as the cost of reinforcement was more than what the building was to sell."

Sue Hogan now occupies the building, running her own art studio called Verdigris with her husband. She said it has been doing "very, very well".

They would be willing to renovate the building, and hadn't got around to changing the sign as they had been so busy.

Mike Walmsley, the Daily News Stratford representative, began at the Daily News office in 1978. He said an 80-year-old woman once came into the office and said she was the wife of a journalist in the early 1900s and she had two babies while living upstairs.

Mr Sole said it was a shame the Daily News had lost some connection with Stratford due to not having a base there. The newspaper had been making an effort to focus on the town, with a dedicated Stratford section in the South Taranaki Star.

"It's very difficult to employ people and say ‘you're in a weak building' these days," he said. "Christchurch is far too fresh in people's minds to do that."

Bethany Pearson is a Whitireia journalism school student.

Taranaki Daily News