Sunday, December 7, 2014

Forsyth Barr Finds Out Its Fate

Finally, an answer to the Christchurch skyline's biggest unanswered question:
what is happening to the Forsyth Barr Tower?
Well, the earthquake-damaged 19-storey office tower at the corner of Armagh and Colombo Sts., Victoria Square, will be converted into a 200-room hotel with restaurants and a bar.
A hotel chain has signed a deal with the building's owners to convert the 1988-designed tower, and it will open in 2016 as the new Crowne Plaza Hotel.
You may recall the old five-star 297-room Crowne Plaza Hotel on the opposite side of Victoria Square (near the Chch Town Hall) was demolished post-EQ in 2012.
This replacement will be the third Crowne Plaza in NZ for the chain, which is part of the global InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). With five suites, 195 guest rooms, two restaurants, a bar, fitness centre, and function rooms, it will be aimed at business and leisure travellers. It will be the CBD's biggest hotel, pushing the 171-room Rendezvous into
Crowne Plaza demolition, 2012
Forsyth Barr Tower's owners, local investors and developers MC Christchurch Holdings, bought the property earlier this year from an investment group who had offered it for sale as-is-where-is, after taking a large insurance payout.
It certainly makes sense for this building to be bought by a hotel chain, because it would be difficult for anyone to build to the height of Forsyth Barr now. Of course, major remedial work to bring it up to compliance will need to be undertaken (one cannot forget that in the Feb.2011 EQ the tower's stairs collapsed, trapping 15 people on the 6th floor).
There's also the logistical issue of how tour coaches will be able to pick up and drop off guests, given the corner location of the tower. They surely wouldn't park over where the collapsed Copthorne Hotel used to be, and make passengers walk in winter weather to the new Crowne Plaza?
I'm sure, before a multi-million dollar conversion like this is begun, IHG would have considered every angle long and hard. Still, I'll just whisper quietly...*caveat emptor*...
Victoria Square: Copthorne Hotel (now gone) and Forsyth Barr Tower

No comments: