Buyer needed to save restoration bid

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 08/04/2013
Trinity Congregational Church
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

ON BORROWED TIME: The former Trinity Church will go back on the market this week after a failed bid to get investors for the restoration. If no buyer comes forward, demolition may be the only option for the former Trinity Church.

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Christchurch's oldest stone church may yet face demolition after a restoration bid fell through due to lack of investor interest.

The former Trinity Congregational Church, on the corner of Manchester and Worcester streets, will go back on the market today.

If no buyer can be found, the owners say they may be forced to demolish the church and sell the site.

Restoration using lightweight stone cladding was estimated to cost $1.5 million.

It involved using thinner pieces of the original stone on a steel framework, making the building 70 per cent lighter, which could have been a test case for restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral.

Businessman Richard Lloyd had hoped to lead the restoration and secure investors to buy the property.

The Christchurch City Council agreed to donate $1m towards the restoration, an offer Mayor Bob Parker said would still be on the table for a new buyer.

Property owner Alan Slade said the rateable valuation on the land alone was more than $1m, but it was on the market for $825,000 in the hope of attracting a buyer who wanted to save the church.

Slade said if no buyer could be found, it might be time to "demolish and move on".

"I would be saddened if it came down. You just have to look at it and go inside it and feel the magnificence. It's irreplaceable.

"We'll go for this last shot."

Parker said if the building was demolished, the $1m set aside would be diverted back into the council coffers.

"It's a really beautiful building. Our goal is to retain it if we can."

The church was designed by Christ Church Cathedral architect Benjamin Mountfort and built in 1873-74.

Alan and Lorraine Slade bought the church in 1993 and converted it into restaurant and music venue Octagon Live.

They spent $500,000 on repairs after the September 4 and Boxing Day quakes of 2010, but could not face another restoration project.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority issued a partial demolition order in May last year and a make-safe programme started in December.

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- The Press

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