History & heritage  |  24 Mar 2021

Christchurch City Council is going to provide financial help to a charitable trust that is seeking to complete the restoration of two important heritage buildings.

The Council’s Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee agreed to loan the Christchurch Heritage Trust $1.2 million so that it can complete the repair and restoration of the Shands Emporium and Trinity Congregational Church buildings.

The loans are conditional on the Council's investment being secured against the land and buildings.

Shands Emporium is the last surviving colonial commercial building in Christchurch’s central business district while the Trinity Congregational Church building was designed by the famous architect Benjamin Mountfort and dates back to the 1870s.

Both buildings were badly damaged in the earthquakes and were facing an uncertain future until the Christchurch Heritage Trust stepped in.

The Trust bought the Shands building from owner Antony Gough for $1 and moved it from its original site in Hereford Street to a new site in Manchester Street, next door to the Trinity Congregational Church, which it had also bought to stop it from being demolished.

The trust has been working to restore the two buildings, which are now connected by a covered atrium, but it needs additional funding to complete the work.

The Council has previously given a grant of $1 million in 2013 and $172,219 in 2015 to help with the restoration work.

The Trust was getting some funds for the restoration through leasing the Shands building. However, the tenant of the building moved out in April 2020 because of the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown and the Trust has been unable to find a new tenant.

“The Trust needs financial help in order to complete the restoration work it has started on these two important heritage buildings,’’ says Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee Chair Councillor Sara Templeton.

“It has approached the Council for a loan and today we have agreed to give them two loans – a $350,000 loan from our Community Loan Scheme and a $850,000 loan from our Historic Buildings Fund.

“These loans will enable the Trust to finish fixing up the buildings and pay their operating costs until they can get the buildings tenanted and regular income coming in,’’ Cr Templeton says.

The Trust will have 10 years to pay back both loans.