Last-ditch deal for Cranmer Courts fails

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 16:53 01/10/2012
Cranmer Courts
John Kirk-Anderson

GONE: Demolition of Cranmer Courts will start tomorrow.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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LATEST: Demolition of the historic Cranmer Courts will resume within the next week, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) says.

A last-ditch offer from Australia to buy the site and save the historic facade has fallen through, it emerged today.

The 31 unit owners last month voted unanimously to accept the offer, which included the nine occupied townhouses.

Demolition started after Cera issued a section 38 dangerous-building notice, but the work was halted while discussions were held.

However, the agreement was cancelled on Friday during the "due diligence" phase of the sale.

A series of engineering and insurance assessments on the building found it was not economically viable for the buyer to repair.

A Cera spokesman said today the dangerous building-notice issued under the Cera Act still applied.

"We expect the owner will now contract for demolition work to commence within the next week or so," he said.

Annabel Sheppard, the lawyer acting for the body corporate of unit owners, said the unit owners now had to reassess what to do, but it was now likely the property would be sold as a vacant lot.

''After conducting research in regards to the property and the cost of retaining the facade, they [the buyer] have declined to proceed,'' she said.

''Unfortunately, this means another bit of Christchurch heritage will be disappearing.''

Lawyer Michael Wolfe, acting for the buyer, said the buyer had gone into the process confident the sale would proceed.

They had spent a lot of money assessing the site and costs to retain the facade and were ''very disappointed'' it had not worked out, he said.

Wolfe said there were two major obstacles - the cost to make the building safe under Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority regulations and the prospects of securing further insurance claims.

''The combination of these two elements just led to a risk analysis which did not favour proceeding,'' he said.

''The purchaser always understood there would be significant costs involved. The actual amount was far greater than participated.''

Wolfe said it was "a crying shame".

"It's sad tidings for Christchurch really, beacuse that truly is one of our best remaining buildings,'' he said.

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

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