Sold sticker on Chalmers

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 31/03/2014
chalmers church
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ

NEW FUTURE: The Rev Rory Grant stands outside Chalmers Church, which has been bought by Timaru businessman Dean van Buuren.

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Chalmers Church and its associated buildings have been sold to Timaru businessman Dean van Buuren.

The sale became unconditional on Friday and settlement is on May 14.

Van Buuren is overseas and could not be contacted for comment, but the Reverend Rory Grant, of the Presbyterian parish, said the offer represented the best opportunity for Chalmers "to be strengthened and retained as a vibrant and important part of Timaru's cultural and architectural heritage".

He would not be drawn on how much the property was bought for but said the parish was happy with the price.

"With the understanding there was no intention to demolish the building it was reflected in the price," Grant said.

Dwindling congregations led to the amalgamation of four Timaru parishes - Trinity, St Stephen's, St Paul's and Chalmers - in 2009 and the decision to sell the under-used properties in November 2012.

The work on Chalmers is estimated to cost more than $1 million. Built in 1903 the church is listed as a Category 2 building by the Historic Places Trust.

The recently purchased property comprises the old Friendship Centre hall, Zest Restaurant and undeveloped land to the south, on the corner of Bank St and Elizabeth Place.

Although each is on a different title, the site has been sold as one. Its government valuation is $859,000.

Grant said it was sad to see Chalmers sold as it had been a place of worship for many generations. "It is a chapter in its history that is for the best for the future of the building and gives people the opportunity to move forward as well."

The capital gained by the parish will be used on the development of St Stephen's in Wai-iti Rd.

A decommissioning service for Chalmers Church will be on Sunday, May 11, at 2.30pm.

Timaru businessman Kevin Pateman bought St Paul's Presbyterian Church in Seddon St at the end of last year and hopes to use the site for housing.

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- The Timaru Herald

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