Council may sell Bishopdale building for $1
A gold coin could secure the Bishopdale Community Preschool a building to call its own.
The Christchurch City Council is considering selling the building, in the Bishopdale Mall complex, to the preschool for $1. The preschool has occupied the building for most of the past 30 years.
But there is a catch. The building is in a bad state of disrepair and will need hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on it before it is safe to occupy.
The preschool was forced to move out of the building and into temporary premises a year ago after a detailed engineering evaluation commissioned by the council assessed it at less than 17 per cent of new building standard (NBS) and identified that it had a brittle collapse mechanism.
The council has been told that it will cost close to $300,000 to bring the building up to at least 67 per cent of the NBS, but its insurers are offering a payout of only $2056 because they say the damage to the building predates the quakes.
Council staff are recommending the council take the insurance payout and then sell the damaged building to the preschool for the nominal sum of $1.
The preschool will be given a long-term lease on the land so that it can then decide whether to strengthen the existing building or rebuild it using the $350,000 it has built up in reserves.
But councillors on the council's corporate and financial committee have expressed unease over the proposed deal, questioning the adequacy of the insurance payout.
"It seems irrational the damage to this building [from the quakes] could only be $2000," Cr Tim Carter said.
"I like the concept of what is proposed here. However, as a council we have an obligation to maximise the amount of insurance recoveries we get.
''Intuitively, I struggle to see how a building like this can only have $2000 worth of earthquake damage."
He suggested the committee delay making a decision on whether to sell the building until it had studied all the reports pertaining to the insurance claim and councillors were satisfied the payout being offered was fair.
Council corporate finance manager Diane Brandish said the preschool was keen to get on with repairing the building.
There would be no financial loss to the council if the deal went ahead.
"The community wants to get on with the repair of the building. If the community wants to assist itself by doing the work at no cost to the council, then isn't that something we should consider?" Brandish said.
The committee voted to delay making a decision on the sale for another month.
The preschool was yesterday reluctant to comment on the committee's decision to delay the sale, but said it was "keeping their fingers crossed" the deal would still go through.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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