Big, broken and on hit list

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2011
forsyth
Richard Cosgrove
Workers are trapped in the Forsyth Barr building after February's 6.3 quake in Christchurch

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Many of Christchurch's biggest buildings are on demolition watch after the quake, leaving hundreds of businesses in limbo.

Civil Defence says at least 190 buildings in the city centre have been red-stickered, including the Forsyth Barr building, Clarendon Towers and BNZ house.

The red sticker is not a demolition order. It means the building is either so damaged there is a risk of collapse or nearby unstable buildings pose a safety threat. Civil Defence figures show that as of Thursday, 42 buildings have been demolished, with 94 partially "deconstructed".

Despite repeated attempts, Civil Defence did not provide figures for how many demolition orders were pending or how many building had been demolished without official authorisation.

Colliers International Property Management director Evan Harris said of the 50 properties the company managed in the central city, 10 had been red-stickered.

Of those four would probably have to be demolished, including the multi-storey Securities House on Gloucester St.

Other damaged buildings were technically repairable but could still be scrapped because it would cost too much, he said. "There are a couple that are a bit unknown. Forsyth Barr could be fixable but it will come down to economics."

Regardless of which buildings were demolished, the earthquake had led to a complete rethink of commercial property and it was unlikely high-rise structures would be built in Christchurch for years, he said.

"It is going to come down to the perception of the CBD and the perception of high rise, but the city does need a strong cultural and business heart."

More than 270 businesses have already asked Civil Defence for access to their red-stickered premises to recover essential items, but all have been turned down.

Many are becoming increasingly frustrated.

Accountancy firm Walker Davey was on level three of the red-stickered seven-storey BDO house on Victoria St.

Director John Abbot said the office had temporarily relocated to Russley Rd, but it was extremely difficult to function with no access to files. He does not know when, if ever, he will be able to recover files and equipment from the building.

"We just want to get our paperwork. Its critical for us and we can never replace it."

Christchurch Dental Group partner Brendan O'Dea has been sharing premises with a Wairakei dental group since fleeing his clinic in BNZ House on Hereford St. The building has since been red-stickered.

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"We want to get our patients' records but whether or not we can, I have no idea," he said.

LANDMARKS IN DOUBT

BDO House, 148 Victoria St

BNZ House, 129 Hereford St

Clarendon Towers, corner of Oxford Tce and Worcester St

Craig Investment Partners House, 90 Armagh St

Crown Plaza Hotel, corner of Durham St and Kilmore St

Forsyth Barr, Cnr Colombo St and Armagh St

MFL building, 749 Colombo St

Manchester Securities House, 221 Gloucester St

Victoria Apartments, 100 Armagh St

- The Press

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