Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Christchurch earthquake: Suburban malls coming to terms with devastation

Eastgate Mall. Photo / Dean Purcell
Eastgate Mall. Photo / Dean Purcell

Two Christchurch shopping malls worth about $300 million have been severely damaged by the quake.

Shirley's $200 million The Palms centre and Linwood's $73.2 million Eastgate remain shut, owners say.

The Palms was sold by interests associated with Tim Glasson to Australasian AMP Capital Shopping Centre Fund. Eastgate is owned by National Property Trust, an NZX-listed real estate vehicle.

A Palms spokeswoman said structural engineers would survey both land and buildings.

"The centre was affected more seriously by the February event than by the earthquakes on September 4 and December 26. A significant portion of the centre will require some form of remedial work and we await further reports from structural engineers to determine what will be needed. We will then discuss a remedial plan with retailers," she said.

"We're working with three of the country's leading specialists, who are reviewing both the structural integrity of the whole building and individual tenancies.

"Our primary concern is for the safety of our retailers, customers and our own team, many of whom have been personally affected by the devastation. Once we receive the final reports and a remedial plan, we can discuss each tenancy with individual retailers. It will take at least another week to get to this stage. Structural engineers haven't yet given approval for retailers or their contractors to be on site."

Centre management will be talking to retailers to discuss each tenancy in the next week.

Not far away at Linwood, part of the Eastgate centre will have to be demolished. John Crone, National Property Trust's general manager, said the carpark was worst hit.

The 30,000sq m mall on the corner of Linwood Avenue and Buckleys Road has a Countdown, Farmers, Number 1 Shoes, The Warehouse and 70 specialty stores including a food court.

"Structural engineers have inspected the property and, while the raised carpark is likely to be demolished, damage to other areas of the centre appear to be less than initially assessed," Crone said.

"The trust is working with its tenants and contractors on a staged reopening with some businesses potentially being back in operation over the next few weeks. However, in some cases, this will be dependent on obtaining council consent. Updates on the status of the centre will be posted on the Eastgate website at www. eastgate.co.nz," he said.

The mall is fully insured, including two years' income replacement.

Accident Compensation Corporation holds 10.5 per cent of the trust. ACC has claims of $700 million-plus after the quake.

Crone said other properties, including Natcoll House in Christchurch, were in better shape.

Simon Brody, a structural engineer of Dorset, England, had reason to thank Natcoll's architects.

"My daughter Joanna Brody walked unscathed from the Natcoll building in Hereford St during the earthquake, made her way to Latimer Square, where she saw the collapse of the CTV building," Brody wrote.

"She eventually made her way home to New Brighton by bike and is now in Wellington. We have a lot to thank the designers of the Natcoll building for. I'm a structural engineer and I know what they have achieved."

- NZ Herald

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