Cancer Society selling Christchurch CBD site

12:16 AM Thursday March 29, 2018 Colin Taylor

The 1530sq m site for sale at 246 Manchester St on the corner with Kilmore St – is identified by a yellow border. Photo / Supplied

The Cancer Society is selling its former Christchurch city site in Manchester St, on the corner with Kilmore St.

The society vacated and moved to alternative sites after the Canterbury earthquakes which resulted in its Manchester St building being demolished.

The organisation has owned the 1530sq m site at 246 Manchester St since the 1960s. Until the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes, the property was part of a complex housing its main patient accommodation, divisional cancer services and administration operations.

Jonathan Lyttle of Savills’ Christchurch office is now marketing the vacant site, on two titles for sale by tender closing at 4pm on Thursday. April 12.

The site benefits from a high-profile corner location on a busy road, making it attractive as a potential site for a buyer to undertake a retail or commercial development in a key CBD location, Lyttle says.

“This is a great piece of land on one of the main arterial routes through central Christchurch. There has been plenty of rebuild activity in the immediate locality in the past few years, making it an up-and-coming area with some major projects already complete and more in progress.”

The site is located roughly half way between the central city retail precinct and Bealey Ave, and opposite the new rental car precinct. It’s also very close to the Forte Health building, the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, the East Frame and Avon River.

“The development of the East Frame housing project will provide a big boost for businesses in this part of the city, with a strong local resident population in the immediate vicinity of the property.”

A Central City Mixed Use zoning means the site could be used for a wide range of activities including retail, office, residential, community facilities, entertainment, recreation, education, healthcare and more.

Elizabeth Chesterman, chief executive of the Cancer Society’s Canterbury-West Coast Division, says the sale of 246 Manchester St will help place the Cancer Society in the best possible position to move forward on the purchase of a new site.

“The Manchester St site is too small for our future requirements, so we have made the decision to sell it. It’s a beautiful site in a great location and it holds a lot of history for our organisation. We’re sad to be letting it go, but we would love to see it redeveloped for the benefit of the local community.”

Chesterman says the organisation is progressing well in its search for land on which to build a new facility.

“We’re looking at a number of options to meet our growing needs into the future and we’re hoping we will be in a position to make an announcement in the near future.”

The purchase of a suitable site, and eventual construction of a new facility, will bring the Cancer Society’s Canterbury-West Coast administration, patient accommodation and support services together under one roof for the first time since before the Canterbury earthquakes.

This will result in a more efficient, improved service for cancer patients and their families, in a purpose-designed, modern building in attractive surroundings.

The organisation in Christchurch has been spread across four separate sites since the earthquakes: two accommodation facilities, the hospital centre and a city office building.

“We want to build a new, larger facility that brings all our people and services together again. Over the past few years it has become clear that our existing buildings are not fully meeting our needs, especially as we are facing increased demand for our services,” Chesterman says.

“To have all our services, although still retaining our essential hospital facility, on one site again will help us be much more efficient and ensure people get the support they need – across the full range of accommodation, individual and group support programmes, health promotion, education and administration functions.”

A key part of the Cancer Society’s service to patients is providing free accommodation, with patients from a large geographical area north of the Waitaki Valley, including Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast, receiving treatment at Christchurch Hospital.

Currently, this accommodation is provided in two former motel properties in Merivale and Riccarton, however constructing a purpose-built facility with enough additional rooms to meet growing demand is the ultimate goal, says Chesterman.

“It’s all about providing comfortable and welcoming facilities to help people cope with their treatment. Patients often find that being able to share their journey with others going through the same thing really helps.

“In our accommodation, they have the opportunity for companionship when they want it. Simply not facing their treatment alone goes a great way towards helping with patients’ social and emotional wellbeing while they are staying with us.”

The Cancer Society’s accommodation services are consistently fully booked, with almost 800 South Islanders receiving cancer treatment staying in Cancer Society facilities in the past 12 months, Chesterman says. 

“Unfortunately, facilities are not adequate for the number of referrals received. Staff and volunteers are constantly challenged to find suitable alternatives for out of town patients and their families.”

The Cancer Society wants to build a facility that will be attractive, welcoming, purpose-designed and large enough to meet the needs of an increasing number of patients undergoing treatment, she says.

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Jonathan Lyttle of Savills’ Christchurch