Grand Chancellor demolition delayed again

BEN HEATHER
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2011

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Demolition of the Hotel Grand Chancellor in central Christchurch has been pushed back nearly two months by aftershocks and extra work.

Figures obtained from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) show contractor Fletcher Construction said in its tender bid it could bring down the 26-storey building in 37 weeks and two days.

When Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee announced Fletcher had been awarded the contract in May, he said the job should take about 10 months and could take up to a year.

Cera said the decision to add an adjacent car park to the demolition had added four weeks to the project. The June 13 aftershocks pushed back work another three weeks, with the demolition now expected to take 44 weeks.

"It should be acknowledged that at the time of award there was still large unknown quantities with regards to the structural stability of the building and that the final solution could not be confirmed until the full engineering analysis of the building was completed," Cera said.

The three losing bidders said they would demolish the building faster, with one claiming explosives could be used to bring it down in 26 weeks and three days.

Cera has refused to release copies of tenders or disclose the price offered by the losing bidders, citing commercial sensitivity. The Fletcher demolition is expected to cost more than $10 million, and The Press understands it was not the cheapest bid.

Grand Chancellor Australia and New Zealand group manager Frank Delli Cicchi said he was happy with the progress Fletcher had made in difficult circumstances.

Work to demolish the car park was under way. When completed, it would allow a crane access to the main building.

Fletcher has not been awarded any other quake demolition contracts, but has six staff working with RCP, which manages demolitions on behalf of Cera.

Fletcher spokesman Barry Akers declined to comment, referring The Press to Cera.

The Grand Chancellor is the largest building in central Christchurch slated for demolition. It must be at least partly demolished before the surrounding area can be reopened.

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