Cera 'using bully tactics' to get land

MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 05:00 05/09/2014
David Alexander
MONIQUE FORD/ Fairfax NZ

INTIMIDATED: David Alexander claims Cera is trying to bully him out of his central city property.

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A central-city property owner says he is being bullied out of his commercial building by a heavy-handed Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera).

David Alexander, of ACE Developments, said Cera's "my way or the highway" approach was intimidatory and deprived him of being properly compensated for his building.

"Canterbury people don't know what is going on," he said. "[Cera is] saying, ‘if you don't take what we're offering, you'll get nothing and we'll see you in court on our terms'."

Alexander said at least he should be paid Cera's offered amount and then be allowed to pursue the balance claimed in the courts.

"It could take years for this to be settled."

ACE owned 115 Moorhouse Ave, the last property Cera needed for the metro sports facility. The property has been used mainly for car warehousing.

His valuation was a long way from the Crown valuation, Alexander said, and the offer would not restore him to his pre-earthquake position.

The building had been extensively renovated after the Christchurch earthquakes.

Lawrence Hill, a former senior lecturer in valuation at Lincoln University, who is helping Alexander with his case, said the Crown appeared to be denying Alexander "half of the equation".

The Crown was obliged to compensate Alexander for his land and buildings but also had to reimburse him for disturbance.

With the amount offered by the Crown, Alexander could not replicate his building and the sort of business he was conducting. "The Crown should not be putting him in this position. It shouldn't be expecting more from him than is fair," Hill said.

Alexander's lawyer, Glenn Jones, said he was mystified why the Crown would not offer ACE the $3.3 million it offered in April "as they would be required to if this was a Public Works Act acquisition".

ACE would would take its case to the High Court, he said.

Cera was depriving a local business of its land and income and forcing it to wait for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act compensation process to play out, which could take years, Jones said.

Acting Christchurch Central Development Unit director Don Miskell said the purchase was necessary for a key anchor project in the recovery.

"The Crown had sought to acquire this property by agreement but had been unable to achieve this despite having been in negotiations with the previous owner for more than 18 months. All the other properties designated for the metro sports facility had been acquired by agreement," he said.

ACE had received full notification and all relevant statutory notices advising the Crown required the property and had been told the steps the company needed to take for compensation, Miskell said.

ACE could continue to work with the Crown's agent - The Property Group Limited - towards reaching agreement on compensation, he said.

A determination on compensation could be appealed to the High Court, Miskell said.

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