The following is the text of the "Save the Majestic Theatre" Deputation to the Christchurch City Council Earthquake Recovery Committee.
To: Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Christchurch City Councillors
From: Historic Places Canterbury [HPC] / Save the Majestic
A Deputation seeking Council’s support to save the Majestic Theatre
Why should the Majestic Theatre be saved and restored?
The Majestic Theatre building houses a major theatre and associated office spaces. It has the potential to become a key focal point for community-based cultural and social activities. It could also service smaller-scale convention needs.
Too much of the CBD’s heritage fabric has been demolished; we cannot afford to lose more. Restored heritage buildings will alleviate the potential blandness and monotony of the post-quake city by providing variety and contrast.
The Majestic is a listed historic building with significant cultural associations and a distinctive urban presence at a major central city focal point.
- Built in 1930, The Majetic has served as a lyric theatre, cinema and church.
- Significant performers include the Beatles, Kiri Te Kanawa, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Manfred Mann and many others.
- It is the city’s first fully steel-framed building [380 tons]
- A landmark building on a key intersection. In a city where visual monotony is likely, it will provide context and contrast for the new glass and steel Stranges building opposite.
- Its Art Deco façades and Hispano - Moorish interior complement the restored heritage of New Regent Street.
- It provides versatile seating capacities according to need: originally seating 1650, it now accomodates 800.
- Serious earthquake damage is confined to the stagehouse allowing phased repair and/or reconstruction.
- Reinstatement plans and a detailed engineering assessment have been prepared but not costed.
- Indicative costings of between $10-14 million suggest a good return on investment, producing an asset worth $60-80million.
- The lower costs arising from a restored building could be passed on to community groups through affordable hire charges.
- There is strong public support for retention of the building. “My company would use a restored Majestic if it were available and I would be first to write a deposit cheque to secure a booking.” [Ben McDonald, letter to The Press, 30.11.13]
What major problems need to be solved?
- The Majestic is now owned by CERA and forms part of the CCDU’s east frame designation. The expectation is that it is to be demolished to create green space.
- CERA /CCDU Accessible City plan indicates that Manchester Street is to be widened.
- The Majestic is too valuable a heritage building to needlessly demolish and potentially offers a vibrant interface between the east frame’s inner city living, the Innovation Precinct and the CPIT. Furthermore, it is only a 10 minute walk from the proposed cultural precinct.
- Widening of Manchester St can be achieved without sacrificing the Majestic through reconfiguration of the Manchester, Lichfield and High Street intersection.
We urge the Christchurch City Council to:
- Resolve that The Majestic be saved and restored for the benefit of the people of Christchurch and Canterbury.
- Seek an interim moratorium on demolition of The Majestic from CERA/CCDU to allow for a thorough assessment of the building’s potential.
- Commission costings for strengthening and restoration.
- Negotiate with CERA/CCDU to resolve roading issues
Dr Ian Lochhead, Greg Hynes, Ross Gray
For Historic Places Canterbury /Save The Majestic
5 December 2013
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