One of the largest Napier buildings to survive the 1931 earthquake is to be demolished to make way for another retail development in what is becoming an almost complete makeover of the south eastern corner of the city's CBD.
Built as the Caledonian Hotel in 1908, the three-story concrete building on a 940sq m site at Hastings and Dickens streets is expected to be knocked down in February and March 2013, owners' spokesman Glynn Pointon said yesterday.
Westpoint Plaza Partnership (WPP), owners of the building which has nine ground-floor retail tenants and nine residential tenants upstairs, hopes to have a mainly single-storey replacement with up to five shops built by next August.
The Caledonian building, known also as the Commercial Building, was bought by WPP in the demise of developer Lloyd Stevens in the 1987 market crash. Features of the building include its grand staircase and a basement once used to store beer kegs.
Although it hasn't operated as a hotel for years, the site had a notorious history in the licensed trade, dating back to the 1870s wooden hostelry, which was destroyed by fire in 1906. It was replaced by the current structure.
It was still a hotel during the December 1944 shooting rampage by bar patron Martin Eyles, resulting in the deaths of two people and wounding of three others before Eyles was shot by a police officer.
Mr Pointon said retail tenants were advised this week that although the building meets earthquake-strength requirements it was unlikely to meet expected new standards, after which it might not be insurable. The building is expected to be vacated by February 1.The area is already part of major change, started by the demolition of the Art Deco-era Odeon Theatre, Callinicos and Paxie's buildings and the 20-year-old AMP building in 2011.
They are being replaced by a new store for national retail chain Farmers and a boutique shopping lane from Hastings St to Marine Parade.
Further south on the seaward side of Hastings St, the two-storey Williams Building, which opened in 1911 and also survived the earthquake 81 years ago, is set to be demolished and replaced by a single-storey retail block with rooftop parking, and to its south, on the opposite side of Albion Lane, the Napier Cosmopolitan Building is also set for redevelopment.
Both buildings have been bought by Havelock North-based Wallace Developments and spokesman Mike Walker said work on the club site will start soon, with demolition of part of the Marine Parade frontage and strengthening of the remainder, creating a new office block which will have a cafe opening onto Hastings St, which is also being revamped by the Napier City Council.
Further change is expected with a spokesman for the owners of the stone-front, pre-earthquake Napier Post Office building, on the northern corner of Hastings and Dickens streets, saying a decision on its future should be made within a month.
Anchor tenants New Zealand Post and KiwiBank moved out in June to a temporary site in the Balmoral shopping centre, off Wellesley Rd and several hundred metres from the CBD.
Building owners' spokesman Gerald Grocott said earthquake risk assessment had taken place, and options include the possibility of demolition. Other options are removal of the upper floors and strengthening.