Eleventh-hour offer may save Cranmer Courts

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 07:33 25/08/2012
cranmer
HERITAGE HOPE: Cranmer Courts could yet be saved.

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The historic Cranmer Courts may yet be saved after an eleventh-hour overseas offer to buy the site.

The Press has learned that the Cranmer Court Body Corporate has received an offer to buy the entire site from Stephen Roche and Simon Morrison of Risk Worldwide, an international disaster insurance recovery firm. Demolition of the historic facade, on the corner of Kilmore and Montreal streets, has been halted. The offer includes retaining the existing heritage buildings, the nine townhouses on Peterborough St and the land.

Roche could not be reached in Australia for comment yesterday, but The Press understands that the proposal is for about $7 million on top of the $19m insurance already secured.

The offer may prove the miracle the Cranmer Courts body corporate and heritage advocates have been waiting for.

Demolition began last Friday and members were devastated a last-ditch effort to raise enough funds to stop it failed. Some $6m had to be raised by Monday but no benefactor came forward.

The building owners in the Cranmer Courts body corporate, which has 33 members, will be asked to vote whether to accept the offer. A 75 per cent "yes" vote is required to proceed.

Body corporate chairman David Chambers could not be reached yesterday.

Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund fundraising manager Kristina Pickford said she aware of an offer but did not know any details.

"If there was a buyer that could provide a solution that meant it wasn't demolished, that would be fantastic," Pickford said.

The Historic Places Trust is documenting the building while demolition is at a standstill.

The heritage-listed Christchurch building was red-stickered after the February 2011 earthquake and residents spent $1m stabilising it.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) issued the Cranmer Courts body corporate a section 38 notice on April 19. The notice was not an immediate demolition order but stipulated the building was considered dangerous.

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