Orion's heritage building demolition begins

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 08:48 27/07/2012
Orion demolition begins
Don Scott

DEMOLITION: The Orion building was rated as a category II heritage building by the Historic Places Trust.

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Another heritage building is set to disappear from Christchurch as work begins to pull down Orion's two buildings on Manchester St.

The administration buildings owned by Orion are to be demolished after major damage caused by the earthquakes. The electricity network firm has not used the buildings since February 2011.

Both buildings are at 218 Manchester St, the west end of Orion's central city site, and were used as offices for the company's 150 employees. The buildings, at the west end of Orion's site, appeared on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's demolition list last December.

One of the buildings, located at the corner of Manchester St and Armagh St, was built in 1939 and had a Historic Places Trust category II heritage classification.

Orion chief executive officer Rob Jamieson said in April while they would have liked to save the buildings, safety and risks were the key factors in the decision to demolish.

"We believe the cost of trying to fix the buildings would be too high when we still have much work to do to repair Christchurch's electricity network. Independent engineering assessments have shown that it's uneconomic to repair either building, and the demolitions have been approved by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority."

Orion workers moved out of the buildings immediately after last year's February 22 earthquake and have worked from a temporary back up site around the corner in Armagh St ever since.

Jamieson also said any further quake damage could endanger the company's backup Armagh St site.

"The proximity of the damaged buildings to our back up site is a risk that we need to mitigate. If we don't demolish them they could interfere with our ability to keep the power on, and that's unacceptable to us."

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- The Press

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