Limited cordons likely to remain

MICHAEL WRIGHT
Last updated 05:00 21/03/2013

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Building demolitions could limit access to parts of central Christchurch when the mid-year deadline to remove the rebuild-zone cordon passes.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) aims to relax the off-limits area by July but has long said that "individual" cordons around properties would stay longer.

Cathedral Square is one thoroughfare that could have post-cordon access trouble.

BNZ House, where demolition stalled when asbestos was found in it last year, and the former Government Life building are likely to be standing past July.

A Cera spokesman said the authority was still working to the mid-year target to remove the cordon "but access through [Cathedral Square] will still be dependent on any ongoing demolition, construction [or] infrastructure work".

The Government Life building's owner, Christchurch developer Philip Carter, said work to remove its interior, including asbestos, was continuing but "about to be finished".

The building is on land earmarked for the new convention centre, but neither Crown acquisition nor demolition was imminent.

"We've just started talking to [Cera]. We have a contract to take the asbestos out and if we wanted to then demolish it [we could], but we haven't made that decision at the moment," Carter said.

The fate of the Forsyth Barr tower will soon be known after a "long, drawn-out process".

Peter Rae, a director of the company that owns the building, said assessments and costs for all repair, rebuild and demolition options had been submitted to the insurers.

"We're expecting to have their response very soon. It will come down to economics [which option is chosen],'' he said.

"I've still got as much pressure on as we can possibly apply. I would like to think we have some very real progress by the end of this month."

There was no single factor that had delayed a decision on the building well past those of Christchurch's other high rises, he said.

"We lost a lot of time in the early stages with the inaccessibility,'' he said.

"There is no one particular sticking point. There's an element of reasonably hard fact in that, but there's also an element of unknown and projected cost, rather than known cost."

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- The Press

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