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Hotel chain hopeful it can rebuild in squares

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 18/11/2013

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The potential re-establishment of Christchurch hotels on Cathedral and Victoria squares by one of New Zealand's main hotel chains remains on hold while repair and ownership issues are sorted out.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels remains waiting on decisions that it hopes will allow it to re-establish operations at both the Millennium Hotel Christchurch in Cathedral Square and on the site of the Copthorne Hotel Christchurch Central in Victoria Square.

The old Copthorne Hotel is nearly demolished but the NZX-listed company needs a go-ahead from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) before it re-establishes any accommodation complex there.

The space off Victoria Square had been earmarked as a potential site for a performing arts precinct by rebuild authorities, but the repair of the Christchurch Town Hall may mean that an arts precinct around and including the hotel site does not proceed.

In late August Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) director Warwick Isaacs said the Crown would continue to purchase land for part of the precinct but "at this stage" would not pursue acquisitions north of Armagh St, where the hotel site is situated.

Around that time Christchurch City councillors voted in favour of a full repair of the city's Town Hall but there is a view that cost will deprive Christchurch of a new performing arts precinct or at least downscale it.

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels NZ managing director BK Chiu said at this point there had been no signal one way or another from Cera whether it would go ahead and buy the Victoria Square site.

The hotel chain has maintained it wants to rebuild on that same site if it can, rather than look for alternative sites.

"If the Town Hall is going to be repaired then I can be hopeful . . . yes we are hopeful," Chiu added.

"If we can have our site back that is where our heart is."

Meanwhile, the hotel chain's potential multimillion-dollar project to repair the Millennium Hotel Christchurch in Cathedral Square remains on hold, Chiu confirmed.

While the hotel chain says there is no substantial work underway at the hotel site, some damaged carpets had been removed as part of an ongoing process of taking fittings out of the complex.

The hotel chain has previously said the uninhabited hotel has been assessed as repairable by engineers after quake damage.

"(But the Japanese) owner and insurance company are still in discussions. There's been very little (happening), though we removed some of the carpets," Chiu said. "That's about it."

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Chiu has said that when work started on the Millennium Hotel it would take two years of repair work to enable the hotel to get back to working order.

- The Press

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