Restored central Christchurch heritage building open for quick public peek
The public are being allowed a quick peek at a rescued and restored heritage building on the Christchurch convention centre block.
The brick former bank building from the 1920s, on the corner of Colombo and Armagh streets, was originally earmarked for demolition to make way for the convention centre.
Although earthquake damaged it was saved in 2015. It has now been restored by new owners, property investors Patrick Fontein and Paul Naylor.
Fontein said they were so pleased with the completed refurbishment they wwere opening the building to the public on Wednesday from 4pm to 6pm.
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Fontein did not want to disclose the cost of the work, but said it had cost $1 million more than expected and proved dearer than building new.
The pair bought the building from the the Isaac Conservation and Wildlife Trust, founded by Lady Diana Isaac, after the trust abandoned plans to restore it. The new owners spent 18 months on the restoration.
The building previously housed the National Bank and has been known as Isaac House.
"We're hugely mindful that there are thousands of people in Christchurch who love this building and feel like they are pseudo owners of it, so it was important for us to get it right," Fontein said.
While the project had been drawn-out and costly, they loved the building and with so few heritage buildings left, it made a good investment, he said.
"We want it to be special for the next 100 years.
"You only have one chance to really get it right, so we have taken longer, increased the scope of the work and upgraded much of the building to as-new."
The ground floor had already been leased to a high-end restaurant. The tenant has not yet been identified, but was expected to open by May.
The pair were looking for tenants or buyers for the building's upper floors, which face Victoria Square and the new Crowne Plaza hotel.
Their commercial real estate agent, Brynn Burrows of Colliers, said people could lease a floor or buy one with 0a strata title.
They would be "picky" about who they let move into the building in an effort to preserve it, Burrows said.
An example of Georgian revival architecture, the building was bought by Lady Isaac in 1999 to preserve it. She put an ongoing conservation covenant on the site with the help of the Christchurch City Council in 2002.
After the February 2011 earthquake the building's site was designated for the planned convention centre. The building's fate was reversed when the now-defunct Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) removed the designation to allow it to stand.
Fontein's company, Auckland-based Studio D4, has already developed the Vodafone, Kathmandu and parking buildings in Christchurch's innovation precinct. They have also restored the old Twisted Hop building on Lichfield St, now Dux Central, and are developing the Lichfield Lanes complex next door.