The granting of permission to demolish a heritage-listed building on Main St, Gore, might pave the way for a new commercial development.
Retired United States dentist Dr Jack Phillips has been given approval to demolish the two-storey 1901 building at 128 Main St and build a single-storey building in its place.
A hearing to consider the resource consent was held on June 5 before hearing commissioners Robert Nixon, of Queenstown, and Glenys Dickson, of Gore.
P&L Cooper Family Trust and Jones and Cooper Ltd builders representative Peter Cooper said he was interested in buying the site, with a view to undertaking a commercial re-development.
He had ownership in two other commercial buildings in the central business area.
Mr Cooper said in his submission, being aware of the cost of restoring an old building versus the return from it, it was quite unlikely anybody would contemplate spending the money required to restore this building to a suitable state for commercial use.
“That unfortunately could lead to the building remaining empty and falling into greater disrepair,” he said.
Mrs Dickson said earlier this week, the building had been substantially altered during its lifetime – it had been used for various purposes, including as a restaurant and a hairdressing salon.
The building had lost quite a lot of its heritage character, she said.
Her fear was that the building would have ended up being demolished by neglect, which would have been a bad look for the town’s Main St.
“The decision to demolish wasn’t taken lightly as I believe, wherever possible, heritage buildings should be restored and retained.
“There does come a time when some of these heritage buildings are well past their prime and cannot be restored or the facade retained.
“Some form of [funding] needs to be set up nationally to offset thecosts of retaining these buildings if we are serious about protection of our past.”
In the decision, the reasons given for the demolition were that the building was less than 20% of the New Building Standard and is listed as an earthquake risk.
The building is not listed as a protected heritage item by HNZ, the decision stated.
“The building is uneconomic to restore to a standard which would comply with modern earthquake codes,” the report said.
It was difficult, if not impossible, to tenant; the internal layout of the building did not lend itself to tenancies.
The building had been used for nearly eight years and movement in the brick work was clearly evident.
Harcourts Gore branch owner Lloyd Anderson said it would be reasonable to expect a new building would have an annual rental income of $25,000 and would cost between $260,000 to $300,000.
“It is only a 106square metre site and its triangle,” Mr Anderson said.
The property is on the market as is where is, he said.
Drawing on past knowledge of such demolition projects, the operation would cost between $50,000 and $60,000.
Dr Phillips had already spent about $60,000 on more than one engineer’s report, legal and consultant’s fees, as well as application fees, Mr Anderson said.
Three submissions on the proposal were received – they were either neutral or in support.
Conditions of consent require the construction of the new building to begin within two years of the demolition of the existing structure, and the leasing of car parks in the vicinity for the use of occupiers of the building.