Victoria Apartments demolition begins

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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Demolition work has begun on Victoria Apartments.

The 13-storey building in Armagh St is being "soft-stripped", which means that any remaining belongings will be removed, as well as furnishings and internal walls.

A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority spokeswoman said that over the next four to six weeks a 250-tonne crawler crane will begin the cut-and-crane process to bring the building down. It is scheduled to take about 14 weeks.

The building was damaged in the February 2011 earthquake, and its demolition was announced in July last year.

Shilton and Brown are in charge of the demolition.

The Crown bought the site as a clear piece of land, which is intended to be used for the new convention centre.

Body corporate chairman Mark Abbot said it would be "tremendous" to have the building finally come down. Some residents were able to go inside one last time on Tuesday but it "wasn't a very pretty sight", Abbot said.

Police found 15 squatters in the complex in November.

The damage inside, including spray-painted graffiti, was extensive, Abbot said.

James Jameson, owner of the St Asaph St Kitchen and Stray Dog Bar, owned an apartment on the third floor of the building. He was one of the residents who went into the building earlier in the week, and said it had been "devastated".

In September, it was reported that Jameson was struggling to get into the building to retrieve his belongings. He has since been able to recover his artwork, but has had to let the rest go.

"I cut those ties a long time ago," he said. "I'll be relieved to see [the building] go."

Built in 2005, the complex housed 17 apartments. Jameson bought an apartment off the plans, and had lived there since the building opened.

"Victoria Square was my garden. I loved living there," he said.

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