Jun 4, 2008

New Regent Street Restoration

New Regent Street 1932

A distinctive rows of forty shops on New Regent Street are to benefit from a $500,000 Christchurch City Council grant. The project will include strengthening the buildings, reinstalling the original decorative tiles that some shops still feature beneath the front windows, and tidying modern additions to the street.

Built on the site of the massive Colosseum, which had been used as a skating rink, theatre, boot factory and finally a garage, the street was first proposed in 1929 by merchant George Gould II (1865-1941) and was opened by the Mayor Dan Sullivan on the first of April, 1932.

The street was the work of a local architect, Harry Francis Willis (1893-1972), who also designed the now concealed 1934 Art Deco facade of the nearby State Cinema at the northeast corner of Gloucester and Colombo Streets. Willis was the readiest in the Christchurch of the late 1920s and 1930s to experiment with decorative building design.

The distinctive Spanish Mission architectural style is unique on such a scale in New Zealand and was one of few big construction projects in the South Island during the Great Depression period.

Based on 2007 figures, the upgrade is likely to cost about $1.4 million for the whole street, with the cost for each property varying. Of this, the Council can provide grant money of up to 40% of the cost per property. The Council is expecting this to total about $500,000 over the life of the project.

A Council heritage conservation projects planner says the money will be used to repaint the street based on the original colour scheme, which is understood to be Cream, Ochre and a light Terracota.

Further reading:

Revamp planned for picturesque street, The Press, 04 June 2008

Press Release, Christchurch City Council. 5 June 2008

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