Odeon Theatre repaired

01:43, Jan 31 2009
LANDMARK: the historic Odeon Theatre in Tuam Street.

The historic Odeon Theatre, in Christchurch, has had its leaks plugged and could open for business tomorrow, its owner says.

However, the future of the Tuam Street landmark, a Category 1 listed building, remains uncertain, according to developer Dave Henderson.

Fears about the condition and prospects of the 1883 building the oldest masonry theatre in the country, and one of only three purpose-built 19th century theatres that have survived in New Zealand were raised by heritage advocates last month. They believed water damage was causing irreparable harm to the Odeon, and were concerned the building had not been bought by the city.

The Christchurch City Council recently voted to buy five properties owned by Henderson who has recently suffered financial difficulties but not the Odeon.

Independently from that decision, city council-owned management company Vbase has spent a year considering whether to make a bid for the theatre, but Henderson did not know if it had decided whether to act or not. He said there had been other inquiries about buying the building, including some from outside Christchurch, "but everyone wants it off me for two bob".

In the interim, workers had repaired leaks and put right a range of issues that had caused the building to deteriorate, Henderson said.

Drawings for reconfiguring the theatre to meet modern performing demands had been drafted. Possible future uses for the Odeon included as a movie theatre, band venue, small conference facility and a venue for fashion shows.

"We're satisfied that sooner, rather than later, the Odeon will be back having a meaningful place in our community again," Henderson said.

"I'm very conscious that it is an important building for this community, and it's an important building for me personally," he said.


The Press