Quake-hit Bicycle Thief to be demolished

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 11:31 12/11/2012
Bicycle Thief owner Richard Middleton
Stacy Squires

GUTTED: Bicycle Thief owner Richard Middleton is dismayed his restaurant cannot reopen in Latimer Square.

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The Bicycle Thief, on the western side of Latimer Square, has been given its marching orders by the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU).

Richard Middleton, the owner of the popular central Christchurch bar that sits within the eastern frame of the new central business district, has been told the building he leases will be compulsorily acquired by the Crown and pulled down.

The decision has gutted Middleton, who was hoping the CCDU would spare his business.

Middleton said he was at a loss to understand why the CCDU was determined to pull down a ''perfectly good '' building and destroy a strong business.

''I would challenge the [Earthquake Recovery] Minister or [Prime Minister] John Key to sit down and explain the economic rationale behind this decision,'' Middleton said.

''To knock over a perfectly sound building which has a successful restaurant and bar and 100 beds for worker accommodation, how does that contribute to the rebuild of our city?"

The Les Mills gym also sat within the eastern frame and the CCDU was not insisting on its removal. ''Les Mills is an asset and there's no way it should go, ever, but we have a role to play as well,'' Middleton said.

The Bicycle Thief has been closed since the February 2011 quake, but Middleton had planned to re-open in March in expanded and refurbished premises.

Last Friday's 5pm phone call from the CCDU's implementation manager has quashed all hope of that happening but Middleton is refusing to give up entirely on the business - yet.

He is hoping that if he gets enough support from the public he might be able to convince the CCDU to change its mind.

''There's a lot of support for our business and hopefully that might count for something,'' Middleton said.

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- The Press

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