25 Oct 2021

Palmerston North High Flyers owner told to 'undertake long-deferred maintenance'

6:08 pm on 25 October 2021

By Jimmy Ellingham, Manawatū reporter

Heritage New Zealand hopes the owner of a Palmerston North building that caught fire last week will undertake much-needed maintenance of the inner-city landmark.

Heritage NZ hopes the owner of Palmerston North's High Flyers building will undertake much-needed maintenance.

The Edwardian-era building was the city's post office until the mid-1980s. Photo: RNZ / Jimmy Ellingham

Emergency services rushed to the High Flyers building in the central city last Monday evening as smoke poured from its second storey.

The fire, initially treated as suspicious, is being investigated by police.

The building has fallen into disrepair in recent years.

Heritage NZ central regional area manager Alison Dangerfield said it was hopeful "the owner will undertake some long-deferred maintenance and we are able to offer advice on heritage issues about a refurbishment or adaptive reuse of the building".

"As one of Palmerston North's notable buildings and a landmark on The Square, it is well worth the care and management it deserves as a historic place."

The Edwardian-era building was the city's post office until the mid-1980s. From the 1990s until the mid-2010s it became a popular nightspot, including the long-running bar High Flyers.

But it has been empty since 2017 and the crumbling structure has been subject to dangerous building notices.

The city council has also issued "notices to fix" for problems including broken windows on the street front. All the building's dozens of windows are broken or boarded up.

Owners of heritage-listed buildings, such as High Flyers, are responsible for their maintenance, but aside from council-issued notices for specific problems little can be done to force them to upgrade such structures.

Fire-damaged High Flyers building in Palmerston North

Photo: RNZ / Jimmy Ellingham

A Heritage NZ spokeswoman said from photos it looked like most of the building was in a similar condition to before the fire.

The building is owned by Palmerston Post Ltd, whose director and major shareholder is Alan Moyes, of Auckland. He could not be reached on Monday and has previously declined to comment.

Over the past decade, developers have planned to use the building as a hotel, conference venue, inter-city bus stop and for retail, but nothing has gotten off the ground.

RNZ understands Palmerston Post has this year been in negotiations to sell the building.

The 4032sqm section has a land value of $2.83 million and a capital value of $2.87m.