Tallest tower earmarked for hotel

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2014
forsyth barr
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
FORSYTH BARR: Could be turned into a hotel.

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Forsyth Barr House, Christchurch's tallest office tower, is under offer to a developer who wants to convert it to a hotel.

Owners representative Peter Rae confirmed they had signed a conditional contract with a would-be buyer. He could not give details because of a confidentiality agreement.

The damaged 19-storey building is on the corner of Colombo and Armagh streets and was put up for sale by its syndicate of 25 owners after they banked an insurance payout.

The Press understands the intending buyers are partly local developers wanting to redevelop it for a hotel operator. The deal is subject to obtaining consents, although the Christchurch City Council has not yet received any consent applications for the property.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit's (CCDU) had the site earmarking for the Performing Arts Precinct, but decided not to acquire it. The property has a rating valuation of just over $30 million, based on repaired value - $3m of this is land value.

Rae said the sales contract was due to be confirmed in early August.

"We are pretty happy, they are coming across as legitimate and capable," he said.

Jonathan Lyttle, manager of marketing agents Colliers, said there was considerable interest in the property, and "a number of other parties" were keen to make an offer if the current deal did not go through. Developers were seeing the value in as-is-where-is commercial buildings, he said.

"Most people understand that with construction prices completely out of control, existing structures can offer better value".

Lyttle said recent announcements of plans for the Triangle Centre, Vodafone building and Performing Arts Precinct had created certainty and boosted confidence in the central city.

Court Theatre chief executive Philip Aldridge said last month CCDU's decision not to buy and demolish Forsyth Barr House had destroyed the master plan for the arts precinct, and called the building a "monstrous carbuncle".

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