Eyesore sites still blot Christchurch CBD landscape, six years after the earthquake

The old BNZ House on Cathedral Square has been under demolition for five years.
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The old BNZ House on Cathedral Square has been under demolition for five years.

Is six years long enough for owners of earthquake-damaged buildings in central Christchurch to sort them out?

Alongside the city's shiny new office buildings, shopping complexes, bars and restaurants and hotel refits, sit deteriorating buildings and partly-demolished remains that attract taggers, vandals, pigeons and sometimes squatters. 

Neighbours report trouble, annoyance and the deterrent effect on their own businesses. With some neglected sites, it is the shipping containers or road cones around them creating frustration.

Last year, following a recommendation from the Christchurch City Development Forum, Christchurch City Council began looking at how to make owners deal with these eyesores.

The forum asked the council to take action where properties are derelict, unsanitary or otherwise an eyesore.

However, council processes and the October elections slowed progress and no new rules are in place.

This is Stuff's list of 10 of the worst eyesore offenders. When will we see progress on these sites and what do their owners plan for them?

OLD BNZ HOUSE, CATHEDRAL SQUARE 



There is action on this site, but it is the slowest demolition job in the city. Owner Nexus Point Ltd bought the damaged 15-storey building in 2015 after its previous owners Cristo Ltd decided against a plan to rebuild it in a similar style. Demolition began in January 2012 and at one stage was taken over by Cera. Protracted stop-and-start work followed, complicated by the presence of asbestos and a disputed demolition bill. Nexus Point is planning a new building for the site and is talking to prospective tenants. They originally hoped the old building would be completely down by April last year.

HARLEY BUILDING, OXFORD TCE

This building is owned by Lee Pee Ltd, which is owned by Hong Kong-based senior counsel and sometime Kim Dotcom lawyer Gerard McCoy and his wife Siu-Wai McCoy. This building was once the prestigious address of professional offices, particularly in the medical field. Recent years have seen it deteriorate gradually and it has sat vacant, damaged and tagged since the earthquakes. Owners of neighbouring buildings have complained that people sleeping rough in the building are responsible for vandalism and theft on their properties. Lee Pee Ltd has not yet announced any plans for the site.

206-216 MADRAS ST 

206-216 Madras St is one of the properties where the new stadium will be located. Photo: IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

These adjoining buildings are all designated for Crown purchase as the sports stadium site. The Crown has bought 1027 square metres of these properties, including the former CBD Bar building, while 891sqm, including the NG Gallery building, remain in private ownership. Two are partly demolished and the others intact, and traffic has been steered around road cones since the street reopened.

Land Information New Zealand, which is handling the purchases for the Crown, says it is still in ongoing discussions with the property owners so is unable to comment.

FORMER PWC BUILDING, ARMAGH ST

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The former PwC building on Armagh St. Photo: IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The 17-storey office building on this site was one of the city's tallest. It was demolished due to earthquake damage, and sold by its property trust owner to the Carter Group, a major property investor in the city. The Carter Group has declined to comment on its plans for the site.

The large hole that was the building's basement remains and is filled with water, complete with the remains of its concrete foundations and metal reinforcing. 

MALVERN HOUSE, HEREFORD ST

Malvern House on Hereford St. Photo: IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

This multi-storey office building is badly earthquake-damaged and has been thoroughly tagged. Owner Malvern House Ltd, owned by Vincent Chew, has not begun demolition and has publicly declined to comment on the property. He has reportedly turned down offers to buy the building. 

SOL SQUARE, TUAM ST

This complex of old industrial buildings, which was transformed into one of Christchurch's liveliest nightspots by developer David Henderson, fell into the hands of receivers before being damaged by the earthquakes. Part of the site was destroyed by fire last year. Waihapu Ltd bought the property at a mortgagee sale in December and Henderson has confirmed he is behind the purchase. Waihapu's sole director is Auckland property developer Tim Edley. Henderson said he would rebuild on the property, which he had always promised to buy back, but has declined to elaborate.

ODEON THEATRE, TUAM ST

Most of the Odeon Theatre facade on Tuam St is hidden by containers. Photo: IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

The facade is about all that is left of this theatre, which was built in 1883 and has New Zealand's oldest theatre masonry. It now sits propped behind shipping containers within the south-frame designation. The Crown now owns the site, which was  previously owned by developer David Henderson.

The Crown hopes to sell the property this year for it to be redeveloped and have the containers removed.

TWO FAT INDIANS SITE, MANCHESTER ST

Containers and broken glass at the former Two Fat Indians building on Manchester St. Photo: IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

This low-level building remains damaged, vacant, with no glass in the windows and cordoned off by traffic cones. Prior to being damaged by the earthquakes, it was occupied by the Two Fat Indians restaurant. It is owned by Universe Realty Ltd. The company director is Christchurch investor Robert Young.

DUNCANS BUILDINGS, HIGH ST

The ornate and historic little brick buildings in this High St row are individually owned. A few have been repaired and restored to their former glory, the rest remain in various states of damage and cordoned off behind fences. The cordon means this piece of road is the only one in the central city which has never reopened since the earthquakes.

CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL

Christ Church Cathedral in Cathedral Square. Photo: IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

More has been written and said about this building than any other in Christchurch since the earthquakes. Privately owned by the Anglican Church, but of public interest and in the city's most central location, its deteriorating condition makes it fascinating to tourists and pigeons while its future is debated.

 - Stuff

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