Central city building owner fights insurer

Last updated 06:39 27/06/2014
Nigel Ross

FED UP: High St building owner Nigel Ross is locked in a three- year battle with his insurer while major projects start springing up around him.

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Nigel Ross wants his building back.

For three years it has sat broken and empty at the corner of High and Hereford streets as an insurance wrangle stalls its future.

"I want to see it back in use," Ross said.

"Christchurch wants to see it back in use."

He is now taking his insurer IAG to court after it offered less than half of what he believes he is entitled to under his cover to bring the building back to an "as new" standard.

Ross is covered for a maximum of $2.5 million but is seeking less than that to repair the property.

Ross said his engineer's report recommended replacing the ground floor slab while IAG, whose engineering report he received just last week, recommends filling in the slab.

"They feel if they delay me long enough and push my costs up enough I will go away but I won't."

He said the walls were compromised with significant cracking and damage but the only way to know the extent of it was to remove the internal linings. He said IAG's NZI insurance arm refused to do this.

Before the 2011 earthquake the building housed five tenants.

Ross heads a property syndicate based in England but has many properties in New Zealand.

He bought the site in 2010 after seeing how popular it was. Ross was buoyed by an announcement yesterday that confirmed the details of the multimillion-dollar Triangle Centre, which will sit across the road from his property.

"But we don't want this wonderful development to be there and us not to be. We will just be an eyesore."

The building next door has been repaired and trading for some time. He hoped that his building would follow soon after.

IAG had agreed to pay for Ross' engineering costs but then reneged on the agreement saying it was a mistake, Ross said.

NZI spokeswoman Renée Walker said the insurer was in negotiations with Ross. "Once proceedings are lodged, the court requires both parties to engage an independent engineer to assess damage to the building. The engineers are then required to meet and discuss these. If there is a difference in engineering advice, the court will determine the correct method of repair."

An offer had been made to Ross. If it was not accepted the case would proceed to trial in October.

Ross hoped his situation would be resolved before. "I bought this building because I wanted this building and I still want it. It's going to be a great city when it's rebuilt and this is going to be a great location."

However, it was costing him money after his 24 months of loss of rent cover expired. "I had pride of ownership - it's not the sort of property that will make the most money but if IAG has their way it will be the one that loses me money."

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- The Press

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