Forsyth Barr to become a hotel

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 10:52 07/08/2014
forsyth barr
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

FORSYTH BARR: Will be turned into a hotel.

Forsyth Barr
FAIRFAX NZ
GETTING OUT: To get out of the building after the earthquake on February 22, 2011, some occupants had to abseil out of broken windows.

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Christchurch's tallest office tower has been sold and will become a major hotel.

The damaged tower, Forsyth Barr House overlooking Victoria Square, has been sold in as-is condition.

Details of the buyer and price remain confidential. The Press has been told the buyer is a local property developer who will gut the existing structure and reconstruct it for an international hotel chain.

Peter Rae, spokesman for the consortium of 25 previous owners, confirmed the sale had been finalised. He did not wish to comment except to say it had been ''a long, drawn-out process''.

The consortium put the 17-storey, 70-metre high tower up for sale last year after banking an insurance payout for the damage. Their money has already gone north, with members of the group revealed this week as the buyers of a $45.75 million Auckland shopping mall.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit's (CCDU) had earmarked the Forsyth Barr site for the Performing Arts Precinct, but decided not to acquire it after insurers chose not to write off the building. The property has a rating valuation of just over $30 million, based on repaired value, with $3m of this land value.

As of yesterday the Christchurch City Council had not received any resource consent applications for the property.

A hotel industry source said the developer who has bought Forsyth Bar House had invited several hotel management companies to take a look at it. Real estate sources have said a 200-room, 4.5 or 5 star hotel could be created from the tower.

The building was designed by Warren and Mahoney and built as Robert Jones House in 1989.

It made international news when its stairway collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake, and office workers were photographed abseiling out of broken windows to safety.

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- The Press

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