Nelson's iconic Trathen's building demolished after almost 100 years
After weeks of quiet, internal demolition Nelson's historic Trathen's building came down last night while bystanders watched on Trafalgar St.
Heavy machinery reduced the street to one lane so the building could be attacked from the inside and out.
Trathen's Properties director Ken Trathen said it was an emotional time for the family.
"There was a sense of relief, a sense of a safety in the CBD because there was a lot of stress with that issue and certainly an enormous amount of emotion," he said.
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Trathen said watching the building come down was fascinating and although it was an end of an era he was excited for the future.
"They've got some incredible machinery that chomped up the building pretty well," he said.
"It's certainly has shown the size of the site with clearing it all away, it looks like it's going to be a very big building that is going to be replacing so we're very excited about that."
Built in the early 1920s, the building has the most stylish facade on Trafalgar St but has a National Building Standard rating of only 6 per cent, making it an extremely high earthquake risk. Formerly home to Trathen's department store, a leading Nelson retailer for seven decades, it has had untenanted upper levels for 20 years.
Phil Tons was one of the spectators of the demolition, he bought a jacket from Trathen's in 1988 when he was 15-years-old and has plans to be buried in it.
"I thought I would buy a leather jacket because they were cool back then - I paid $975 for it," he said.
"I'm meant to be buried in it, I'm 99 per cent sure that I've got it stowed away in the shed. It was my favourite jacket when I was a 15-year-old boy working."
Christchurch based Southern Demolition director Alan Edge said he was pleased with the work that had been done to the building.
"It's gone very well. It's specialist care, they're high reach machines with special attachments jaws," he said.
"We started internally, the boys had done a month's preparation before we pulled it down. The facade of the building was the biggest problem."
The new building was expected to cost around $2.38 million and would feature two restaurant-cafes with outdoor dining on the upper level, extending over the footpath. Construction is scheduled to start in October.