Last chance to visit former church

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Last chance... GTM Developments Ltd owner Graham Maxwell will be opening the doors of the former Irk St Methodist Church on Sunday so people can have one last look inside before the church is demolished. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

People will have one last chance to step inside the former Irk St Methodist Church before it is demolished.

The building is owned by Graham and Tara Maxwell of GTM Developments Ltd.

Mr Maxwell said people could enter the church on November 1 between 3pm and 4pm.

“They won’t be able to wander around the church for health and safety [reasons] . but they will be able to enter the church and see what it was like,” Mr Maxwell said.

In September 2016, a plan to demolish the church and build a $3million two-storey commercial building was approved after the Gore District Council granted the Maxwells a land-use consent application to demolish a scheduled heritage structure.

The couple abandoned the original plan.

“We couldn’t find tenants for the second storey of the building.”

In 2019 the 1475sq m corner site was put on the market.

However, other options had been investigated.

“We have spent a lot of money over the last 12, 18 months trying to work out how we could utilise the structure.

It was hard to readaptively use a church because they were “so specifically built for a purpose”.

“The cost came to $1.36million which wasn’t viable so that is why we have had to go to we can build brand new for $800,000.”

It was a “shame” to demolish the building but was the cheapest option, he said.

The church’s foundation stone was laid in 1909 but the building has not been used since the mid-1990s.

The building will be demolished before Christmas to make way for a new office building.

Historic features such as the cross and foundation stone would be retained and displayed.

People could also take part in a digital online walk-through of the building.